Monday, December 22, 2003

Don’t you love the idea of a mulligan? That opportunity to pick up the ball, go back to the beginning and try again? What a great rule. The first one didn’t count. Go ahead and have a do over.

Unfortunately, a do-over seems to be reserved for errors and miscalculations. We don’t usually get the chance or the opportunity to have a do-over when it’s something good. Essentially, the do-over is nothing more than a punishment/redemption combo plate. And that’s really a shame.

The problem is in the do-over itself. A do-over is an egocentric activity where a person is returned to GO, and all the elements are set in orbit once again around you. Can you learn from you previous mistake? If so, then you’ve passed the test. If not, well, nice going, idiot. You’ve blown it now not once, but twice. It can be very discouraging.

What’s great is a happy do-over. Happy as in “that was so wonderful, lets do it again”! I wish for these a lot, but they rarely happen. And when they do, they aren’t the same. Somehow it’s not as good; it’s not magical. It feels strangely sad and empty.

The problem here is that in reality, the wish isn’t for a do-over, it’s for an instant replay, and that doesn’t happen in life. A do-over requires all the elements to be forced into action. Chaos theory says it is possible to get random results from normal equations, so exact duplication isn’t going to happen. This is why any result that differs from the original tends to be a disappointment.

I just finished having the do-over of a lifetime. And for once it wasn’t punishment. And for once it wasn’t a letdown. Instead, it was a marvelously rich, rewarding experience. It was different from the first time. Not better and not worse, just different. Each was a success in its own right. Why did this do-over work, when so many others failed?

It wasn’t about me.

Unknowingly, unwittingly, unconsciously, I realigned my thinking and my role in the do-over. Instead of placing myself in the center of the universe and like Mickey Mouse, commanding the elements to orbit and perform at my command, I threw myself into the orbit as well. I became a part of the process rather than a static observer and a critic of the end result. I became a verb – I became an action – I became a force.

My do-over was an opera. Twenty-five years ago I sang the role of the mother, and my little brother sang the role of my child. Two days ago I sang the same role, and TinyTuna sang the role of my child. Because my maternal instincts overrode my Soprano instincts (where we are always and forever the center of all universes, world without end, Amen), I was focused on TinyTuna and her experience, rather than my own. But my reward was an experience and a performance that has its own life and its own stories to tell. I finally had a successful do-over.

The more I thought about this, the more it made sense. How often have I re-read a book and discovered new meanings? How often have a performed a musical work and found new beauty and truth in something I thought I knew so well? It is the constant. I am the element of change. I am a living breathing Chaos Theory, and when I allow the music, or the book, or the work of art to become the focus instead of myself, I am able to reap the rewards of a do-over time and time again.

Now that the opera is finished, I am racing head first into the do-over brick wall known as the holiday season. With three days to go, I can see the “nice going, idiot” handwriting on the wall. I’m behind, frantic and stressed, just like every other year. Even my Christmas tree fell over in sympathetic suicide.

Is it too late? Can I realign my thinking and recognize that Christmas isn’t about me? Can I leave the center of my own pre-conceived universe and become a part of the process? I’m tired of being a critic of Christmas past. I want to be a verb – an action – a force, and celebrate Christmas present, in whatever form it takes.

I’m ready.
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