Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 10, 2013

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Goshen News

---- — It’s another potpourri week. That means ruminative vignettes from me. Here goes:

Every so often I have an “Aha!” moment. I used to call it a “revelation,” but I think it’s less about something having been revealed to me and more about me — finally, maybe — understanding it.

So every so often I get an understanding. I got one recently, and here it is: Sometimes, friends, we do not get second chances. You either get it right the first time or you do not. No mulligans, which is a term for the “do-over” my mom taught me when I was a teenage golfer.

And many thanks for mulligans, right? I mean every night when I put my head on the pillow, I come up with a list of mistakes I need to correct, attitudes I need to improve, whatever. I ask for forgiveness, make amends as able, and move on.

That’s being a human; that’s life.

And to date, I’ve woken up every morning with yet one more opportunity to get it right — or, at least, get it better. I’ve gotten thousands of mulligans, I know. If you’re reading this, so have you.

So, much of life, truly, is about having yet one more opportunity to grow, to learn. We crawl, then walk, then run. We fall, get up, fall, get up. I understand that and, like everyone else, would be long gone without mulligans.

But, in some ways, it seems we’ve grown to expect these next chances. We’re angry when we get a speeding ticket rather than a warning — even if we broke the law. We tank a test and cry out for scaled grades or dropped scores or another chance to take it. (Um, I know nothing about that.)

It seems, too, that we have grown as a people to aim for a standard far below perfection because we’re sure we can always get it right later, get it right the next time. Or worse: When we do screw up, we’re pretty quick to expect people to be gracious to us, to forgive our errors. When they’re not so amenable, instead of looking at where we might have been wrong and correcting it, we bite back with, “Well, nobody’s PERFECT.”

I saw some of all of that in myself recently, and it was not a pleasant revelation (yes, revelation). And recently I screwed up on the one thing you really CANNOT mulligan: a first impression. Haven’t you heard that? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?”

Later, when I realized what kind of impression I likely left, I thought about how I could re-do it. But I could not re-do it. I could try to clean up any mess I might have made — but sometimes that just makes matters worse, so be careful — but I could not, in fact, re-do that first impression.

Sobering.

Then I thought about nursing in areas like critical care, emergency or trauma situations. I’ll be in those situations shortly, and I’m glad I got this understanding now: Sometimes there are no mulligans. You have to make a quick decision, and it could be — oh-so-literally — life or death. No do-overs.

Yikes.

Probably we have become somewhat of a “second chances” society out of self-preservation. How untenable is it to live with this kind of pressure all the time — get it right the first time OR ELSE? Way too untenable.

Yet sometimes we MUST live that way. If I’m your emergency nurse, you’d better hope I live this way.

But how do I?

The answer I came up with is MINDFULNESS.

Mindfulness, from what I can tell, is about being extra consciously aware of whatever you’re doing in the moment, with “in the moment” the key phrase there. So if I’m meeting you for the first time, I’m right in that meeting, listening intently and being mindful about what impression I’m making.

In theory, then, there’s a lot less room for “Ack! I should have … could have … or would have …” because I already will have have. “Have have?” Yes, have have, meaning I already was in that moment, doing good and right things, rather than later wishing I had.

That’s the theory.

I have begun to work on this conscious mindfulness — particularly in health care settings and with my family — but mindfulness is not easy when your brain is busy and thinking of what seems like a gazillion things.

Thankfully, I’ll get a mulligan on mindfulness, a chance to get it better … tomorrow.

Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at wholefamily@goshennews.com, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”