I was recently told that I am better at writing than I am at speaking. Hmmmm…..I was initially insulted, but it only took a moment for me to absorb the backhanded compliment and reluctantly agree.
I’ve determined that the reason that the statement is true is because in writing I can always rewrite, edit, crumple up the page and start over. It’s easy to write exactly what I want because I can revise it countless times to ensure it’s perfect (or as perfect as I can make it).
However, when speaking, as soon as the words are out of my mouth, it’s over. My foot has been inserted where the word-vomit spewed out and I can’t revise it and I can’t delete it.
At first, I was disheartened by this as I compared my poor speaking skills to life. It made me think that the bad decisions and mistakes I’d blurted out over the past 29 years would forever be captured in my life’s story with no way to retract them.
Then California & I had a great week…..
Back in June, I went to San Diego for the first time ever. Delighted to visit the city with “perfect weather” and an incredible downtown, I couldn’t wait to get there (even for a work trip) to see the beautiful blue ocean and take in the California sun. Unfortunately, the trip was anything but good. Bad weather, ruined plans and work-stress added up to a negative experience and poor review of southern CA.
Due to a series of events, I was given the opportunity to visit San Diego again this week. With my expectations low, I flew from my Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean hoping to have at least a slightly better experience.
Upon arriving in CA, I was ecstatic to feel the warm sun and see it bouncing off the blue harbor waters, a HUGE improvement over the gray sky and matching ocean from my previous trip. I checked into my hotel and quickly went to work on our tradeshow booth (the purpose for the excursion). I finished my work in record time and found myself with 2.5 hours of free time to spare. It only took a few seconds for me to decide what to do….and I made a beeline for the Panda Line at the San Diego Zoo.
After a surprisingly short wait in the famously long line, I stepped into the Panda’s lair with gleeful anticipation. Upon seeing the black and white bamboo-eating giants just beyond the railing, I was instantly overtaken with a peaceful calm and overwhelming gratitude. Quiet and elated, I watched three of the majestic creatures nibble on trees and bask in the sun. I snapped picture after picture of the beautiful bears so very thankful for their existence, my own existence and the experience to witness the incredible artistic hand of nature.
Very high on life, and with time left before I had to get back to work, I was able to take in the rest of the incredible zoo (at a pretty quick pace…that place is HUGE!) and see the big cats, elephants, giraffes, polar bears, silly monkeys and adorable koalas that our amazing planet has provided.
In addition to the Zoo, San Diego included drinks with a rugby friend I hadn’t seen in seven years, sun-filled runs along the harbor and even a really good work experience.
I left CA with positive memories and a new appreciation of San Diego, replacing all the negative emotions and sub-par reviews I’d previously given the city. I arrived back in CO just in time to learn of something else that California had done this week – Overturning Prop 8.
The initial passing of Proposition 8, in my mind, was a black mark on American history and an unconstitutional neglect of equal rights for all. On Wednesday, August 4th, the ruling was finally overturned. My favorite excerpt from one of the many articles written on the monumental event is “eliminating gender and race restrictions in marriage has not deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality,” with which I whole-heartedly agree.
So, what do visiting Pandas and Proposition 8 have to do with each other?
They’ve taught me that wrongful decisions can be overturned and disappointing adventures can be revisited. That being said, can’t inappropriate actions be apologized for (and forgotten)? And although bad choices can’t be unmade, they can allow us to revise the way we make the next choice. All of this has led me to the conclusion that that life is exactly like writing.
Sure, what has been done will always be stuck in the first draft, but its only a first draft. The final copy can be edited along the way, characters can change, old chapters can be revised and rewritten, current pages can be pulled out, crumpled up, and thrown away to clear the way for clean sheets of opportunity.
I embrace the compliment that I’m better at writing than I am at speaking. Rather than thinking of life as a one-time shot of blurting out the right thing, I apply the “draft, revise, draft, revise” approach, composing a story that can only end as perfect as I can make it.