When Is A Mistake Really A Mistake?



Have you ever thought back over your life? Thought back over the mistakes you have made? Considered what might have happened had you done this, or done that, or not done the other thing? What you might have been? What you might have accomplished?

I have. Many times. And the further back I look, the more decisions I find that anyone with a lick of common sense would have recognized at the time as mistakes.

What would you do if you were offered a chance to go back and correct all those mistakes you made? Where would you start? What would you change? What would you leave alone?

For a long time, I thought I knew the answers to those questions. I had a pretty good idea what I would change.

Then a day came, not too long ago, when it dawned on me how wrong I was. Why? Well, read on and see for yourself.

On Nov. 17, 1959, I was a 27-year-old staff sergeant in the United States Air Force, sitting in the dining room of a staff house in Karachi, Pakistan. That's not a very likely place to find a young man born in New York City (I don't tell everyone that), raised in Connecticut, and convinced he would like to settle down in Arizona some day, not a very likely place at all.

Several thousand tiny coincidences had to combine to get me in that place on that day. Many of them were the result of "mistakes" I made when I was young -- passing up a chance to go to college on a scholarship, turning down a commission, choosing a dead-end career field and hundreds of others that I won't bore you with. Change any one of them, or any one of thousands of coincidences, and I would have been somewhere else other than in Karachi, Pakistan.

But I was there, and so was someone else who by all the rules should also have been somewhere far from that place, and because I was there it happened that a good friend of mine asked me if I would like to "meet a couple of nice British girls."

Later that same evening -- I remember the exact date and the exact time: 7:14 p.m. on Nov. 17, 1959 -- I met a young British girl named Loretta George and we fell in love. Dec. 9, I asked Lolly to marry me. We were married June 11 in a little church right there in Karachi. Just recently, we celebrated our forty-fifth wedding anniversary.

I've said this many times before and to many people, but I'll say it again now for your benefit. I wouldn't change one thing in my life. If I did, if I changed any of the tiny things which contributed to my being in that place at that time, it would cost me those things I hold dearest in this world -- my wife, my two children, and the life we have shared together.

If you have sometimes thought that your life could have been different if you had not made this or that "mistake," perhaps it would pay you to consider what going back and changing your life might actually cost you.

Were they really mistakes? Could you give up what you have right now? Could you give up all the moments you have shared with that special someone?

Think about it.

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