I spend a major part of my life writing and teaching. Many of my classes are kept in a folder on my computer. Doing some much needed clean-up this week I fell on some material I used to teach that I promptly deleted. “Some people from long before would be somewhat surprised at what I teach now!”, I thought to myself. Not that what I taught before was necessarily diametrically opposite to what I teach now, but as happens (and should happen) to a person when they grow from childhood, to their teen years and finally to their adulthood, my philosophy and viewpoint have matured.
I remembered how I handled my parents, my first girlfriend, my first students, and my first children. It got me thinking that it is a nice thing to be able to look at the past and say, “Oh, what a stupid jerk I was ...I”. All that said, I must also admit that some of the best decisions of my life were taken during my teenage years but in those days, these moments of brightness were few and far between. Life is such that In general, if we cannot look at yesterday and say to ourselves, “Oh, what a stupid jerk I was!”, we have not grown. We have remained the same and sad to say, are apt to repeat the same errors again.
Something practiced in many companies and organisations is ‘debriefing’. After an assignment, people are ask to think, talk, and assess the experience and maybe learn from it. This allows the person and the company to assess their performance and identify areas of weakness and needed change. When applying these concepts to life in general, the ancients used to call this introspective exercise, ‘The Arithmetic of the Soul.’
To look back at the past with a sense of shame and remorse is actually a good thing. It is a sign that we have learned, that we have grown, and that we have matured. To make mistakes is part of our humanity, but the the real tragedy of life is when we, year after year, continue to repeat the same mistakes without ever learning from them. Maybe King Solomon was thinking about this enlightening maturing principle of life when he said, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (Proverbs 4:18)
Patrick G. Lumbroso
Estacada Rural Fire District No. 69
Station Phone: 503.630.7712
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