It might be obvious from the content of this blog that I have what people tell me is an extraordinary memory. I refer to my mind as “like hot chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe; things just stick to it.”
I use that collection to find patterns. I recently read a critique of theory where someone complained that most social theoreticians who work in anecdote just select the stories that bolster their ideas and don’t engage the stories that challenge them, that aren’t easily explainable by their theory. I understand that complaint, and fight it in my own work.
But that memory often ends up slapping me in the head. Stories of when I made gaffes or faux pas come back to me, still stirring up shame. I should have tipped when I had the dog cleaned, I knew from the face that was pulled after I paid, well over a decade ago now, and when I walk past that shop, I feel the error and mumble my regular incantation at that time, “marry me, gorgeous,” actually invoking the name of a love lost some twenty years ago.
In the past I have looked for an incantation that put that shame in context. I do know that every error, every sin is a chance to learn something. As humans, we aren’t perfect, we are the best we can be in the moment, and it is only when we learn better that we can be better. It’s not making mistakes that dooms us, it is only refusing to learn from them.
I have tried “Live and Learn” as a replacement, but it never stuck.
Last night, I heard one that rang a bell with me. “Like my father always said,” one Aussie TV host said “‘Every day’s a school day.'”
“Every day’s a school day.” I like that proverb. It feels good to me. Maybe it will stick.
Every day’s a school day. Indeed.