Tuesday, February 7, 2006

"Can I have one more chance?"

This must be the anthem of most eight-year-old boys, or at least the anthem of our son Leo. Erring on the side of leniency when doling out consequences for inappropriate behavior by Leo, I have usually given Leo that "one more chance" in lesser behavioral situations. And for better or worse, now it's become my habit of providing it and Leo's habit of asking for it. Is it a bad practice to get into? That will have to be answered and played out in the years to come for Leo and I. But I do believe it is a process that we each find ourselves in - knowingly and unconsciously - almost every day of our life.

You may find yourself, at the end of your day, saying, "If I had today (or a particular moment) to do over, I would have done it differently." It may even be such a frustrating day that you say to yourself, "I just want to go to sleep, wake up and start over." We all have days like this, my friend. Days and moments and habits that we wish we could change for good, or at least, the better. We just need "one more chance."

Born into our very human nature are two such "one more chance" processes; one on the front end of any day and one at the very end of that same day. They are vision and forgiveness.

It is not the vision that comes from the eyes, but the vision that is born out of dreams and hopes - the vision that comes from the heart and the soul. It is the vision and free will that speaks to us each morning, when rising out of bed, and states, "I want my life to be.... I want my life to accomplish... I want to be a better person by..." It is the vision that we often fail to engage in because our morning is just too busy from the very start; we enter the day, in many ways, blind to our upcoming actions and deeds. When we awake each morning, it is Life telling us, "You're given one more chance. Use it wisely."

Forgiveness. As the ever-popular adage states, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission." We don't intentionally go through our day planning to hurt others' feelings, doubting ourselves, wasting our time, etc. It just happens. And when our vision, our foresight fails, we tend to either console or condemn ourselves in the evening with our hindsight. "I should have done.... I should have said... I wish I would have..." At the closing of each day, we are given a powerful gift that complements our glorious gifts of vision and free will. It is forgiveness. Sometimes we simply need to attone for our wrongs and we need to reconcile. Studies have actually shown a reduction in stress and a lowered heart rate immediately following a personal reconciliation or apology for a wrong-doing. It's as if the body is physically looking for a release from this metaphysical tension and strife. Just one more chance.

If you are reading this, then you are given one more chance to find new direction and stronger faith for your life... and then follow it, consciously through your day. Take time to write a small Post-It note, place it in your pocket and refer to it during the day. What to write on the note? You guessed it: ONE MORE CHANCE.

If you are reading this, then you are given one more chance to forgive yourself and those who have wronged you. It's not enough to simply forgive others but not yourself. And it is foolish to forgive only yourself but not others. Take the time before your head hits your pillow to make right any relationships, discussions or actions that may have gone awry during the day. And should you wake up the following morning, be sure to have another Post-It note on your bathroom mirror that simply states ONE MORE CHANCE.

If you find yourself waking once again in this mortal world today, be sure to allow yourself to live that one more chance... it may very well be your last.