February came and went. This blog just watched.
You know how rebellious teens often quote "rules are meant to be broken"? (Which they are!) I am starting to think that goals might be the same way. Is that terrible? Maybe, but we could also say rules are goals are meant to be kept and reached. That is true too. Contradictive? Life is.
On January 1st, I shared my goals for the year. Said I, "In 2011... I want to write in my journal each day, write a poem each day, do at least 50 push-ups daily Monday through Saturday (the least I could do for a healthier bod), and post on at least one of my several blogs each day." End quote. It is the evening of March and already I have failed to do each of these daily. Really? Yes. After all, it only takes one day to forsake. There are lessons here.
So, last month I decided I would strive to accomplish a specific achievement every day for one month. At that time I had already written a poem each day of January. Those can be read at euphrates. In February, I watched a film every day. That was grand. If I ever write more about that experience (or more importantly, about those films), it will be at The Film Tome. In March, I thought about it on the 1st and then in the days to follow I realized I had not picked something. Might it be the month I wonder each day what I want to do every day of the month? Or is that too jarring? Like a statue who realizes he is a statue. It is likely that I have made my bed every day this month... Will that count?
A favorite talk of mine was given by Elder L. Tom Perry: "Raising the Bar." His son was into the sport of high jumping, a particular event I have never had a problem with because I have never subjected myself to its demands. The Perry boy had mastered 5 feet and 8 inches, the height he needed to clear in order to qualify for "state track meet." Elder Perry suggested raising the bar. His son was worried he would then miss. To which the father replied, "If you don't raise the bar, how will you ever know your potential?" It is for this reason goals are meant to be broken. It is for this reason goals are meant to be reached.
During my time in the Missionary Training Center, a spiritual boot camp for young men and women before they embark on their respective callings, some speaker at some session encouraged us rookies to "have no regrets." With all due respect, I feel this advice was more thoughtless than thoughtful. It seems a lofty and admirable intention to actually have no regrets, but for learning and growing people, which we all are, it is unfeasible and can even prove to be detrimental. When the unregretful mess up, it can lead to forms of self-abuse and self-denial. Regret is part of repentance. Who can do without that?
Earl Partridge is a character in one of the greatest films ever made. He is on his deathbed. He is dying of cancer. In this state, so close to the closing of mortality's curtain, he confesses to Phil, his male nurse. Earl reveals he had cheated on his wife years before. He then delivers the following:
"I loved her so. And she knew what I did. She knew all the stupid things I'd done. But the love... was stronger than anything you can think of. The regret. The regret! Oh, and I'll die. Now I'll die, and I'll tell you what... the biggest regret of my life... I let my love go. What did I do? I'm sixty-five years old. And I'm ashamed. A million years ago... the regret and guilt, these things, don't ever let anyone ever say to you you shouldn't regret anything. Don't do that. Don't! You regret what you want! Use that. Use that. Use that regret for anything, any way you want. You can use it, OK? Oh, God. This is a long way to go with no punch. A little moral story, I say... Love. Love. Love. This life... oh, it's so hard. So long. Life ain't short, it's long. It's long. What did I do? What did I do? What did I do? What did I do? Phil. Phil, help me. What did I do?"
We will make mistakes: Break rules and goals and worse. What is important is that we learn our potential and then see what we can do about it. We take our regrets and we use it. We build experience out of it. We change out of it. No matter how seemingly insignificant or truly serious our shortcomings may be, the principle is the same: We make new goals.