25 November 2010


Path through the forest

We all make mistakes. It's natural. We're human beings. We err. Without mistakes we would never learn what's right, never be able to appreciate the times when the choices we made were just right. Making mistakes can occur at both micro and macro levels. On a smaller scale, I will happily hold my hand up and admit that at times - in spite of my best efforts - I make mistakes in written expression. As an English teacher, I always made a tremendous effort never to belittle children for their mistakes but instead I sought to help them to see the reasons behind errors in their writing.

Once, in Manchester, on a sunny Sunday morning I made a mistake at some traffic lights and filtered right when I should have stopped. Thank heavens the oncoming driver in the opposite lane realised what was happening and was able to screech his car to a smoky halt just in time. I was taking Frances to an audition for a children's TV play. A crunching car accident was not the kind of drama she was after.

In life we take many different paths as we discard numerous alternative opportunities. Perhaps the routes we choose are littered with mistakes. What if I had done that instead? What if I had stayed there? What if we had met up again the next day as planned? We each find our way through the forest and though Edith Piaf memorably sang:-
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
most human beings do harbour regrets connected with what we see as our mistakes.

Looking back, I find that a good number of my most cringe-worthy errors were connected with times when I failed to say what I really meant or felt, choosing to keep a lid on the beast within. How often have I replayed those moments - like a loop of videotape in my head. I should have done that, I should have said this. The nagging tormentor that has often kept sleep at bay.

Instead of pondering on mistakes, we should all spend more time reminding ourselves of our best achievements, those golden moments when we said exactly the right thing, the good choices we have made, the times when everything went swimmingly well and the forest path was strewn with sunlight and flowers.


  1. How very odd. Your post today would make a good response to my post scheduled for November 26th (tomorrow).

    Perhaps that is not the type of mistake you meant.

  2. I don't remember any golden moments. Times when I may have said or done the right thing slip by unnoticed..I do regret so much. Yet you are right ... we need to forget yesterday and move forward.
    ps how was the audition??

  3. I don't recall you forgiving any of my writing errors!

    As for hindsight, it does no harm to look back to remind yourself of lessons learned, but you shouldn't stare.

  4. I have to concur with Mr Parrot's comment. You ain't never let any of my mistakes go neither! ;)

  5. I agree with you Mr Pudding, you cannot spend your time in regret, let it go & move on to the next thing

  6. gawd we all seem to be refective at the moment!!
    humans should learn something from animals...

    they dont think too much!

    mistakes...pah.....we are atill alive and learning!!!

    Have a peaceful weekend pud!

  7. "For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
    -- John Greenleaf Whittier (Maud Muller - 1856)

    A thought-provoking post, YP.

  8. Anonymous1:47 pm

    Seems to me that it could be time to revitalise that Cohen melody again...

    Thanks for your responses to this post. And to MISS ARKANSAS 1992 thanks for this:-
    "For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
    -- John Greenleaf Whittier (Maud Muller - 1856)
    And to John Gray You're right - we could all learn a lot from animals. They strut around in the nude, don't work and fornicate whenever they are in the mood. William Shakespeare eat your heart out baby! Oink! Moo! Neigh!

  10. Elizabeth11:52 pm

    YP, when I first read this, I read it wrongly and linked it to some of the comments about regretting nothing. I realise that that is not what you are saying in your piece at all. You do have regrets and I admire you greatly for admitting that. I apologise for that mistake.

    We all make mistakes, but true growth comes in learning from them,putting them right when we are able and moving through the forest with the new knowledge and wisdom acquired.On my site, in the page, 'A Joy Worth Knowing' you will find something that I was once quoted as saying in an interview. You may find it helpful.

    I make many mistakes. I hope that you will forgive any that have impacted on you, YP. But there are very few mistakes that cannot be put right. A huge eraser and a bit of elbow grease is often all it takes to wipe away the rubbish.

    Take care. xx

  11. In my life as a (sort of) teacher of English as a Foreign Language, I do sometimes wonder why so many pages and exercises of the text books are devoted to teaching constructions such as "I wish I had + p/participle", "If only I had ...", "I could have ..", "I would have .. if ..." and so on. My students also wonder (and/or wander) too.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.