December 07, 2014

Right and Wrong

I have been wrong. I was thinking this the other day. I have found myself in situations were I was 100% sure I was right, but no... I was wrong. I try to learn from these experiences. I remember being in a play in school. The teacher had the bright idea (ha, ha, prepare to be punned) to stand at the back of the auditorium with a flashlight. She'd blink the light on and off if an actor had forgotten a line.

Can you see where this is going? 

I remember standing on the stage wondering which idiot wasn't saying the lines. Until a fellow classmate hissed my name. Blinking light. Not me. Hissed my name. Not me. And then I realized—everyone was waiting for me. I was the one not speaking. I was the (wait for it) idiot.

Once, I didn't get off the bus at my stop. Not that I forgot. For some other-worldy reason, I didn't think it was my stop. I saw my mom and thought, I wonder what she's doing at that stop? Seriously. The bus took off again and then I realized—with growing panic—that no, my mom wasn't wrong. I was.

But the worst was this. On my first serious no-adults present bike ride with a friend downtown, I made the plan to cross a road two ways. First horizontally, then vertically. (If I were a different person, I would tell you North then East, or West then South, or some such thing. But basically, first this way, then that way.) The "that way," was against a red light. I was still in single digits age-wise, but I can remember feeling the courage of my convictions. I mean, I knew we were going across, then across. And I went—and was hit by a car. 

My bike was crumpled. I was in the street bleeding. And this elderly woman came rushing up to... (if you think I'm going to say "help," you're sadly mistaken) scream that I had gone against the red. That it was my fault.

And she was totally right. It was my fault. I went against the red—not even realizing for some reason that the light was red. Or that red was wrong. 

I think sometimes your brain—or my brain—makes these false connections. You think you're right. You're 100% sure that you're right. You're right as the driven snow. But you're wrong.

I check myself daily multiple times. I do my best to figure out biases. I engage in research. I look all the time to see if I'm wrong.

Why am I writing about this? Because I was at a party last night stuck next to a woman who is never wrong. Trust me. She is always right. No matter what anyone said to her (or even near her) she had to instantly correct that person. I sat there politely (on the surface). But mostly I was in shock.

At one point, she rudely asked the catering staff what cut of beef the steak was. I almost turned to her and said, "The free kind." The caterer told her exactly what portion of tenderloin (or whatever the fuck) the piece was. But there had been this edge to the guest's tone. Like it was the cheap stuff. And she was going to let us all know.

Because that's what you do at a party.

I woke up this morning thinking that I'm so grateful not to be her. If that's what being right looks like, I am happy to embrace wrong. In fact, I'll fucking french kiss wrong right on the mouth. You can watch if you want. Wrong won't mind at all.