“Every second a seeker can start over, for his life’s mistakes are initial drafts and not the final version.” – Sri Chinmoy

Chief among the universal human attributes, is our ability to fail. Each of us as card-carrying human beings is engaged in a daily endeavor to succeed. Even those among us who are lovingly referred to as, “underachievers,” still succeed in sustaining their lives from day to day;  even if just barely.

This post isn’t intended to discuss the merits of overcoming adversity or of persevering in your quest for whatever it is gets you out of bed each morning, but rather as an exploration of the often sought-after, sometimes achieved, and too-frequently mourned second chances life presents.

That elusive thing that somehow we took for granted in our youth and crave with alarming nostalgia as we age.

As I discussed in a prior post, each day is a fresh start of sorts, an opportunity for a new, clean beginning. A welcome chance at finally getting things right and hopefully finding ourselves replete with fresh perspective and all the hope that morning can offer. (Unless, of course, you’re not a morning person, but that’s a conversation for another day. Consider this a metaphorical discussion as I myself am typing this at the ungodly hour of nearly 2:00 a.m. )

But of greater significance to me these days, is the question of second chances as they apply to us each in our interpersonal relationships. The Universe offers each of us many opportunities at greatness, but I’ve found myself recently pondering the relevance of our own imperfections and transgressions and our ability to extend second chances to one another.

And ourselves.

Wow. Did I just go there? I suppose I did.

I am, as I have blogged before, my harshest critic. By a landslide. I am often relentless in my criticism of myself and extend a much greater degree of compassion toward the people around me than toward myself. I suspect that’s part of being human, but I’m sure the degree to which this is true differs from person to person.

But, this particular post is not about the need for each of us to be more patient with ourselves; well not entirely. It has more to do with a recent experience I had, and as I am becoming in the habit of doing of late, requires that I share a little bit of Holl with you. I am becoming, if nothing else, deplorably vulnerable to all of you. Be gentle with me–Lord knows I’m not.

I have a good friend. I am grateful to be able to type that verb in the present tense as there was a time in which I truly believed that it would become more of a past-tense remark.  She is all that is good and kind and, blah blah blah. She is wonderful and I love her dearly, but I’d be lying if I said that sometimes her goodness and kindness didn’t grate on me. I’m not gossiping; she’s well aware of this “character flaw,” as I have lovingly termed it. Sometimes I just want to hear her curse or scream.

She wouldn’t yell if she was on fire. And I love her anyway. Go figure.

This sweetness of hers only served to exacerbate an overwhelming sense of guilt I harbored concerning our relationship and over the course of several years began to take root.

I had, during what was arguably the darkest period of my life, fallen into a crevice of self-pity and despair that left me completely unworthy of the moniker Friend of the Year . Can you hear that sound? It’s the sound of a noose of guilt tightening around my neck. I’m literally wincing right this minute.

My friend had many major life moments occur during my Dark Ages: a marriage was begun, two babies were brought into this world. She burst into adulthood with fervor and her life responded with undeniable favor blessing her with the things that make it worth living. Her perpetual smile and cheery demeanor were multiplied. Or so I had assumed, as I had become a bit of a prodigal in her life. My loss, to be sure.

After years of separateness and pursuits of the things that draw us along the meandering path of life, we were fortunate enough to have met up again; our segregated lives once again weaving together into a surprising fabric. I had assumed after my neglect that I had been written off.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t do awkward. I just don’t. It’s like the color fuchsia–it will never have a part in my life. I will never embrace it; nor will I ignore it. I grasp awkwardness by the scruff of the neck and unceremoniously toss it from my presence.  No ignored elephants stand in the midst of my life’s living room. I haven’t the patience.

So when I saw her, I plowed ahead. I told her how sorry I was that she had lived an entire life and enjoyed these enormous blessings since I had last spoken with her and that all the while I had been incommunicado; that I had neglected to respond to the invitations to baby blessings and bridal showers. I just couldn’t. It’s a horrible thing to concede, but sometimes when you’re super miserable, it just doesn’t seem possible to watch someone–no matter how much you love them–being so much happier. It was never about jealousy–I truly couldn’t have imagined a more deserving person. It was just that somehow all these wonderful things that were happening to her seemed to make it all the more clear that they weren’t happening for me. Boo hoo, I know.

I apologized. A sincere, unqualified apology and awaited a stern response I was sure I deserved. Nothing. Crickets. She did nothing but smile.

She assured me that my apology was unnecessary. Huh? How could that possibly be? I’d been such a d-bag! But what did she do? She had the nerve to hug me and then, upon pulling away, looked at me with all the gentle irony only a good friend could possess and offered me the most genuine smile a person could produce. Wincing again.

I had completely underestimated her. And, quite frankly, myself. I had a revelation right there in the Smith’s produce section surrounded by kumquats and kale and misbehaving children; a surprising epiphany:

Sometimes the hardest thing about second chances isn’t giving them, it’s getting them.

Sometimes we feel so undeserving–so unworthy–of such acceptance; of such unconditional love. There’s enormous pressure that becomes heaped upon us at the mention of the term, “second chance.” It somehow can serve to remind us that we botched the first chance. That we’re flawed; human.

Perish the thought.



“We’re given second chances every day of our life. We don’t usually take them, but they’re there for the taking.” – Andrew M. Greeley