Do you hate being proved wrong? I do and yet my arrogance provides constant teachable moments such as not turning my head left when making a right-hand turn and getting clipped in my front fender about two feet from my driveway. Negotiating a roadway is something I do for a living but there’s no debating the physical laws of two objects occupying the same space.
A mentor of mine once pointed out you can be right, or you can be in a relationship, but insisting on being both at the same time is like a car crash waiting to happen. Too recently I managed to reek havoc in a dear friend’s life after he allowed me to look at his manuscript and give him some feed back. With all the delicacy of a sledgehammer I put his dreams on the forge of my opinion and let the sparks fly.
It took nearly three weeks for us to begin speaking again when he called me to point out I hadn’t asked a single question about his process or purpose in writing his story. In short, I didn’t look both ways. I never considered what it was like for him to share his work as I was only interested in validating my perspective as the judicatory reader.
When cars collide we get over the shock and exchange registration and insurance information, but when our lives over run each other’s lanes all that matters is apology and forgiveness. In Bob Goff’s new book, “Everybody Always Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People, he says, “The difference between great improvisational jazz, and great classical recitals is simple: in the first there are no wrong notes. If someone makes a mistake, nobody cares, or even notices. Everyone just keeps tapping their feet. In recitals, however, everyone expects perfection!”
In jazz the note right next to the right note is called the grace note and if the player incorporates it into the song the apparent mistake can lead to a new perspective. I hope I’ve learned putting myself up ‘on stage’ as an expert is sure to reveal the flaws of the legend in my own mind.
We need grace because we’re not graceful, careful, or particularly respectful. Bob Goff goes on to say, “There is a quiet confidence in knowing we all hit a couple of wrong notes here and there. The report card on our faith is how we treat each other when we do. Speak some jazz into people’s lives when they miss a couple of notes. Run to them, not away. Don’t give them a pile of instructions like it’s sheet music. Just give them a hug. You’ll be making grace, love, and acceptance a musical memory for them too.”