Wow. I never knew we all made these three mistakes.
You know, I said a lot of stupid things in my 20s.
I didn’t know it at the time of course. I thought I was a genius! But with the benefit of hindsight, I was way off-beam.
Embarrassingly off-beam sometimes.
But if we’re going to grow, we have to be ok with being wrong sometimes. We need that humility if we’re going to cast off our old skins when they’re no longer serving us, and grow into something new.
What we need to realise though is that we’re not alone. We all make mistakes. We all make profound mistakes.
The Irish poet David Whyte says there are three great delusions that every human falls for at some point.
The first is that we will somehow escape the wintering – that we will somehow manage to enjoy all the springs and summers of life, but be the first human to never know sorrow, to never know hard times, to never know death.
The second is that we will never have our hearts broken. Again, we somehow think we will escape that most universal of human experiences.
But our hearts will be broken – by our lovers, but also by our children, by our work and by our projects. It has to be that way. If you invest yourself in something, if you give yourself to something bigger than yourself, then your heart is on the line.
A courageous life asks us to invest ourselves and to take this risk over and over again.
And the third delusion is that with enough planning, somehow we will be able to chart a course that will get us all the way from here to our destination.
That somehow we’ll be able to eliminate uncertainty and chance from life. That we’ll be able to completely control our course, and all the events along the way.
This is ‘the great human arrogance’ and it denies what Whyte calls ‘the conversational nature of reality’. That your life is a collaborative project, a dance between you and the world.
The magic of life happens when you feel the world responding, when you hear its voice in the conversation, you see its collaborative hand in your projects. It’s a cold and lonely life if you’re trying to be a soloist.
These three delusions then are three gateways to maturity. Every human must move into and then move through each of them, to truly grow into themselves and to understand the true nature of the world.
They can be painful lessons, but growth doesn’t happen without them.
And you might be embarrassed when you realise how foolish you have been. But these mistakes are your birth-right. They are part of your quest.
They are part of every quest. Whatever journey you’re on – whether it’s into dance, or starting your own business, or sky-diving or property investing or whatever – these gateways stand as milestones in every human journey. We have more in common than we realise.
And so wherever you are, in this way, realise that you are not alone. You are never alone.
We can take some comfort in this.