I’ve been talking to several people in different parts of my life about this statement: “I guess we won’t have to do that again.” It’s from my mother and it is considered another “Gailism.” It is one of my mother’s classic phrases. I first remember her using it when we went to this sub shop that we had heard about for years. The food was supposed to be fabulous and wonderful. It was some distance from our house and when we finally got to go there to eat, it was clear they were getting ready to close permanently.
It was a weird atmosphere and the food was lackluster and tasteless. At the end of our meal, my mother said deadpan: I guess we don’t have to do that again.” Such dry humor, layered irony, and ruefulness. We didn’t get to eat out much so a special treat really fell flat. In so many ways.
And, of course, there is great wisdom in that statement. We do not have to repeat bad experiences, we can move on, and we can live through disappointment. And in my family, we move through disappointment into laughter as quickly as possible. The statement is reminiscent of the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As human beings, we do that so often. We choose the same path, the same type of significant other, the same diet and so forth. Then we wonder why there’s not better or different results.
In our wisdom, we do learn from our errors, our wrong choices, or even choices that were right at the time but wrong now. Hooray for us! We can move on to make new mistakes and new choices and to expereience more new [insert rude adjective] growth opportunities. It’s our ability to learn from the past and embrace new choices that make us stronger and wiser.
Sometimes those old issues and errors fool us. As one friend puts it, the mistakes get dressed up in new party clothes and seduce us again. If we are smart and if we are lucky, we recognize the old thing in the new duds and catch ourselves before we fall. Sometimes we learn that there are issues that repeat for us and we need to go deeper to learn the meaning of that for us. The human experience is rich in texture and scars.
When we triumph over our old errors, the phrase “I guess I don’t have to do that again,” becomes an anthem of victory and accomplishment. We can move from the irony of that statement into a celebration of the richness of our own experiential lives.
The Six of Wands in the Tarot is a victory card. It depicts the celebration and triumph of a fight well fought and fairly won. The funny thing is, the figure in the card is looking to the future and for more things to overcome. But in this moment, he is taking the time to dress up and celebrate his scars and his resilience.