This post is a bit of an outlier for several reasons. It seems to come at the confluence of several important reminders in my life about second chances.
To level-set – do-overs do not exist. We can’t fix the past. But there are second chances. And sometimes third, fourth, and fifth chances. I believe our access to these additional “chances” is proportional to the time we take to do what is inconvenient, unpopular, but ultimately still the right thing…basically any time spent doing something that isn’t about ourselves.
The impetus for this blog post was actually quite random. I’m on vacation, I have more time than usual, so I’m tweeting…and my tweets are me — unvarnished, not careful, honest, and authentic. I happened to intersect a brief exchange between Matt Bomer and Willie Garson and replied completely off topic.
The last 72 hours have been an exercise in my over-connected life of figuring out how to disable notifications and actually manage communication like Twitter when there are many people coming at you. I thought it would be easy given I get about 5000 emails directed at me each week at work – I was wrong.
Nate Silver’s book about how to identify the signal from the noise has immediately jumped back to the top of my “must re-read list.”
I woke up to something like 200 Twitter notifications after the first 8 hours elapsed, probably 10x what I’ve ever had. I didn’t see much commentary so I started to disregard, then I saw an angry one directed at me about my hatred of the show.
I love the show, I thought…
then re-read my tweet…
then tried to put myself in her shoes, imagining their perspective…
All the love I intended in the tweet wasn’t destroyed but shit…I kinda felt bad.
Thankfully I had the vibrating mobile devices to remind me that someone had liked, retweeted, or agreed. But it was hard to pull away from my desire to respond to this single person – clarifying my well-intended point of view.
We owe a lot of compassion to anyone willing to engage in this always-on way people are accustomed to. We owe a lot of forgiveness if people don’t get it exactly right.
This makes me empathize with Caitlyn Jenner. Beyond coming out as transgender, she’s Republican and an Olympic athlete. Her study of the terms, facts, and appropriate PC statements are sometimes ill-informed, but I’d challenge anyone to do better while still trying to learn…
Then I got in to an argument over text message with my friend Ian. It appears as though this is our annual cycle as one year ago on New Year’s Eve we did the same thing. The argument was both trivial in how it came about, but profound and meaningful in the way that two people who care for one another interact. We both dug in our heels, tonight I fall asleep feeling like we’re at a stalemate, but in just a few hours I’ll pick him up and take him to the airport because I love him and can’t spend another moment being angry with him.
We’ve given each other a lot of latitude, as friends. A lot of chances. And I’m so thankful for that gift because otherwise I wouldn’t have him as a friend.
I’m quite sure my supply of chances would have long ago run out.
And then today happened. And I realized why I might have been given a few more chances than expected.
Two months ago while I was switching mobile devices I paid for parking to run in to Starbucks but the transaction didn’t complete. In the five minutes I was inside, a police officer had placed a ticket on my car.
I saw this and ran up to her pleading. When she asked for proof, I couldn’t figure out how to use one mobile device and the other was just broken. We spoke briefly about accountability and I offered some examples of times I had not been. She said there was nothing she could do. She initially said I could ask for hardship forgiveness and I said that would be terrible to do given I drive a BMW.
I started to pull away and she ran up to the car, and said, “you know, I have a hunch. Don’t worry about the ticket” and she grabbed it back and cancelled it.
I came home and wrote to the Seattle Police Department about her service.
Fast forward to today, and while driving home I notice her walking up the road, checking cars. I pulled over on Pine, jumped out of my car, and ran down to her:
“Do you remember me? You cancelled that ticket and I just wanted you to know how thankful I was and that I wrote a letter to SPD and I hope it made it to you and I hope you understand that was really thoughtful and kind and…shit…I’m parked illegally…damnit…thank you. I needed to tell you.”
I can honestly say I know what it looks like when someone’s eyes light up now.
Sometimes second chances aren’t just for us.
I will write more in the coming week about my general disdain of the grand reset that is New Years. but for now, Merry Christmas Eve, from me, to you, so thankful for all the second chances you’ve given me.