Photo: Savageblackout via Flickr creative commons
Photo: Savageblackout via Flickr creative commons

Photo: Savageblackout via Flickr creative commons

In light of the recent emergence of the fearful and even vitriolic dark side of Lane, brought to light by the program cuts drama, the theme for next year’s faculty-led journal, Community College Moment, is timely.

The theme, “Mistakes, Missteps, and Mess-Ups,” offers an opportunity to bring our imperfections and failures out of the darkness and into the open — and along with them our humanity.

Walking in an ancient rainforest years ago, I stood transfixed, noticing how everything was reaching for the light. The trees, some taller than any I’ve seen, had made it, while thick vines of different varieties coiled around them, reaching upward.

Our mistakes and imperfections are those vines. We may attempt to keep them hidden, but they sometimes make their way into the light for others to see — perhaps because deep down we are seeking to be accepted exactly as we are, warts and all.

Why are we so often embarrassed by our mistakes when they are obviously part of every human life?

These days, mistakes can be costlier than they once were. As the invitation to contribute to the journal says, “we live in the age of the massive fail, oft a precursor to going viral.” It goes on to say, “famously vital to learning, mistakes are often seen as not only serendipitous but even necessary.”

I’ve come to believe that serendipity is both ever-present and a benevolent active agent. As such, it can use anything for good purpose. Even in the midst of what may appear to be a terrible mistake, there remain new possibilities and potential healing moments. Judging ourselves or others can keep this larger perspective from view, however, blocking this opportunity.

Recently I discovered how true this is by writing several different endings to a story I’d already finished. In the original version, things didn’t go well for the main character or for those around her. In a pivotal moment, however, something in her shifted.

Instead of stubbornly clinging to her preferred self-image and determination to win, she became uncharacteristically honest and vulnerable, which, in turn, altered the responses of the other characters — a whole new future opened up for everyone.

Returning to the program cuts drama, I’d like offer a different perspective on the moment of the decision to eliminate them.

There’s been conjecture as to whether LCC President Mary Spilde smiled when the decision was made to cut theElectrical Technology and Auto Collision and Refinishing programs. Further, some have concluded that the smile was an indication of her pleasure at achieving victory.

In the interest of presenting the facts, a screenshot of that moment appeared in the May 15 edition of The Torch. We never know for sure why another person does anything, but it’s a common habit for people to think that they do know.

A guilty verdict was delivered on Mary Spilde.

Last week a Torch staff member, who had been viewing the board meeting video footage for another reason, commented to me that he didn’t think she smiled for the reason people think — he saw something else in her smile.

I took another look — she smiled just at the moment board member Bob Ackerman made a misstep. He said “aye” then corrected himself and said “nay.” Could her smile have indicated slight embarrassment and compassion for her colleague making an innocent mistake in public at an important moment?

It would serve us all well to remember a point from criminal law — innocent until proven guilty.

Like I said, we don’t know what goes on inside others exactly. But I do know this: egos are all the same when it comes down to it. They like to be right (mistake free) and are wired to make judgments.

People go to ridiculous lengths to prove they are right. Anyone who has ever been married knows of this battleground. As for judgment, in the inner courtroom of the mind, “guilty as charged” is the typical verdict.

No one is exempt, for the simple reason that this is how minds work. Even egos that give the appearance of being open and non-judgmental, reveal their unspoken judgments through body language and facial expressions.

Beneath surface appearances we are all the same — fallible and prone to error. But we try to act like we are above being human and demand of ourselves and each other impossible perfection. Who doesn’t know the embarrassment of feeling stupid just from making a simple mistake?

Perhaps we’ll meet in Community College Moment where we can read about each other’s less than ideal moments.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

­— Rumi

13th century mystic and Sufi poet

To view the crucial Boardroom moment go to:
http://www.lcctorch.com/?p=2504