Seniors: Admitting Failures, Celebrating Gains

Nov 1st, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Admitting failures is one of the most exasperating things we ever have to do.  We don’t like to shine the light on mistakes made, failures embraced, failures that were embarrassing and revealing of our own weaknesses.  While that, all of that, says more about us than we would like, being able to admit our failures uncovers a side of us about which we should proud. 

Opening up to the admission of failure is a strength.  It is evidence of character.  It gives witness to someone who is bigger than his or her faults.  It magnifies the better qualities in us.  So,  why should there be reluctance when it comes to our needing to admit our failures?  We just don’t like to open the door to our closet of failed actions, poor judgment, misspoken comments, slip ups, stupid mistakes, all of it. 

We had rather live with the fantasy, and keep others unaware, that we just don’t make mistakes.  We have no failures to which we need to admit. We are, after all, a pretty good person, at least most of the time and about most matters.  We live fairly free of blunders, errors of judgment, faux pas. 

Turn the light on, friend.  Look in the mirror.  Remember just what you said, how you said it, and how you felt when you discovered how off base you had been. It isn’t easy to shake ourselves when we have slipped up.   It isn’t easy to admit failures. 

But, the time comes when the character we have tried to keep so well polished loses some of its lustre.  There are times when the mirror reveals us for what we are or have been.  It isn’t comfortable to shine the light on ourselves and to take

ownership of how we behaved.   It isn’t a part of our well-honed identity to have warts revealed, the flaws observed, the evidence of our stupidity and insensitivity out there for everyone to see. 

That is why we need to discover the redemptive occasion when we can Celebrate our Gains.  There may be a truck load of failures that you/we decide what it takes, what it means to dump the load of all the failures and mistakes of our lives and experience that glorious moment of celebrating one’s gains.

A few years ago, we were moving from Omaha, Nebraska.  It was a Monday morning, garbage pick up day, following a weekend estate sale in which we had cleared our house of all kinds of collections.  At the door, as I departed for work that morning, I spied a white plastic trash bag.  I grabbed it as I made my way to the car, in a heavy downpour.  I tossed the bag onto the rather large pile and left in a rush for the office.   It was not until I was at my desk that it dawned what was in that bag.  It wasn’t garbage at all.  I had managed to discard a bag full of clothes for the cleaners. 

I rushed for the door, shouting to whomever would listen, that I would be back later.  I arrived home just as the behemoth garbage truck was pulling away from our drive.  I jumped out of the car, into the rain, and asked if there were “…Any way to get inside the trash compartment of that truck?”  The driver politely replied, “No, not until we arrived at the dump.”

I asked him for directions, told him I would meet him there and went inside to change clothes. Sharon, my spouse, awaited me and sent me off with good wishes.  In the pouring rain about half an hour later, I saw her, in my rear view window, as she pulled up behind me.  She was in our van, our two dogs with here, and she was dressed to the nines. I asked her what she was doing there.  She said she came to help me.  

After sending her back home, I trudged back to my car in the deep muddy ruts and awaited the truck. When #453 arrived, I followed him up the hill as he maneuvered the vehicle where he would unload his day’s collection.  I parked off to the side, watching as heavy trucks were coming, unloading, and returning to their route for more.  When I climbed to the identified area where my truck would unload, the driver backed it into position, pulled the appropriate levers and the rear of the truck started to rise.  A few bags and other debris tumbled from the huge truck.  My thought was this was going to be a piece of cake, they were falling in a way that I might be able to identify the trash from my home quite easily.  He then pushed or pulled another lever.  The truck took a mighty leap to the skies and out came all the garbage, sacks, lawn cuttings, everything at once. 

I made my way to the top and began opening bags.  I knew what was in most of our bags.  Lots of stuff from the sale.  Yard cuttings, it was spring.  Of course, I would recognize our clothes, mostly my slacks, when/if I came to them.  I dug, thrust, pulled, tore open each bag as I came to it.  Finally, a familiar bag.  I shouted as I opened the one next to it.  Sure enough, there it was, the bag full of clothes for the cleaners.  I jerked the bag and it went above my head and shoulders as I shouted.  A gazillion garbage trucks had stopped and the drivers were all looking at me, waiting to see if I could retrieve what I was looking for.  The lookers on shouted with me. In front of all those people, I had had to admit my failure, but how good it felt to “celebrate my gains” .

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