Something I have thought about quite a lot over the years is how, as a youngster, I lacked accountability. I was terrified of the consequences of being found out to have made a mistake, and I lived in an environment which made it easy not to be discovered. Culpability became this black box of horror I must avoid at all costs. I have frequently wondered how much better my life might have been if, during my development, I had been found out, had to answer for my crimes, and survived it.
Today, I had an experience of how supportive that could have been. Today, I made a mistake. I made a mistake that caused (minor) material damage to someone else’s property. And there were witnesses. They couldn’t identify me but could certainly confirm the occurrence of said mistake. In some ways, this was my younger self’s worst nightmare: A mess of my making that I could only escape with evasive maneouvres.
I’ll be honest: I’ve employed evasive maneouvres plenty of times in the past. It’s not like I don’t have that capability in my repetoire. But that’s not the action I chose. I introduced myself as the Maker of Mistakes and Footer of the Bill.
And it was rehabilitating. Relieving. And I was grateful to the situation for allowing me, and even supporting me with the presence of strangers, to demonstrate my ability to do the right thing, even though it would cost me. Grateful to be put in a situation where I could willingly pay penance. I didn’t have to wonder if I could get away with it. I could focus on making it right. It felt like a moment I had desperately needed.
I left the situation knowing I am a better person now than I used to be, because I got tested, and I passed. Until I got tested, I didn’t know for sure. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was also kind of a big deal.