“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” ~ Oscar Wilde
My husband and I went to a concert recently, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. Bob Seger is 73 years young and still belts out his classic Rock and Roll tunes with the power of a V8 engine fueled by whisky and gravel. I sang along, and clapped, and cheered, and wondered about the origin of the sharp scent of cannabis that drifted past our seats. But it was a song, written and performed by the warm-up band that I couldn’t get out of my head. More accurately, it was the title of a song, written and performed by Sunny Sweeney, that kept rolling around in my subconscious. The song is called “Better Bad Ideas” and the title stirred up some thought about bad ideas that I’ve acted on. I call them Better Bad Decisions.
Like yesterday, when I really didn’t have time for lunch. I reached for a sea salt chocolate caramel because it looked better than cucumber slices, but I stopped, mid-grab. Bad decision, I told myself. Instead, I stretched one shelf higher and stuck my hand into a box of Multigrain Cheerios. Better Bad Decision.
Our oldest son has a weakness for cars. Not classic cars or muscle cars, but instead what you might think of as “shelter” cars. You know, the kind that sit in the back of the car lot, with cloudy headlights and oily residue near their tailpipe? Cars that have been abused or neglected by their previous owners and are desperate for a new home. Well, he bought one a while back. An awful, ancient Mercedes with a diesel engine and torn upholstery. When it wasn’t being dragged behind a tow truck, it popped and snorted under a cloud of exhaust. He eventually disposed of it, then turned around and bought a Jeep with high miles but a better track record for getting from Point A to Point B without life support. A Better Bad Decision.
In high school, my husband was on the basketball team. He also smoked cigarettes. When the basketball coach caught him and his buddies smoking one night, he brought them in for individual interrogation. My husband admitted to smoking while his buddies did not. His friends were kicked off the team for smoking and lying, but Rick was able to keep his spot at the end of the bench after a vigorous reprimand because he admitted his wrong-doing. A Bad Decision Made Better?
Have you ever been driving up Interstate 75 with your foot on the gas, pushing the speedometer somewhere beyond the legal 70 mph when you see a State Trooper parked in the median? Instinctively you give the brakes a hard pump and knock the speed down to something closer to 70, as if the law hasn’t already recorded your infraction. Better Bad Decision.
I was driving around the Island with real estate customers the other day when an oncoming car made a swift and sudden turn into my path. If I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have nailed him. I had a slew of colorful names I wanted to spout at the other driver, but “Turd Bucket” was the only one I let slip out as I remembered I had guests in my car. Better Bad Decision.
So, here’s the thing. We all make bad decisions, they happen every day. Sometimes we regret them and other times we aren’t even aware that it was a bad decision until it’s too late to change it. There’s pressure to be at the top of our game; say the right thing, eat the right food; exercise, sympathize, and fraternize. We should stay educated, hydrated, and speak G-rated. We must be flexible and patient and thoughtful and kind. We need to save wisely, give generously, forgive easily and love unconditionally. It’s true. All of the above. But for those moments when desire overrides good judgement, and we feel ourselves surrendering to the pressure of a bad decision, maybe we can take half a step back, or draw in a full breath, or pause long enough to make it a Better Bad Decision.