"Oops" has always struck me as a little port in the storm of a crazy a society obsessed with perfection and "being right."
Face it, screwing up is not something that our society generally rewards. But somehow "oops" manages to transcend the rule-based morality of our Calvinist fore-bearers, taking human fallibility out of the realm of wrongdoing, and giving it a decidedly endearing twist.
The thing is, "being right" is just not everything that it's cracked up to be.
Now we've all heard the aphorism that our mistakes are more important than our successes because we can "learn from them" - blar-dee-blar-dee-blar-dee-blar....
OK, I don't mean to diminish the reality that getting smacked in the face by the universe serves as a great reminder not to do xyz thing again, but I think this approach really sells the oops short. It's like somehow mistakes are only valuable in the sense that they help us to avoid more of them in the future, and to me that's just totally missing the point.
The thing is, "mistakes" are a purely human construct to begin with. I mean, think about nature... does nature "make mistakes?" Even the idea is patently absurd... but somehow we humans have managed to divide the universe up into good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, success vs. failure, and on, and on, and on.
But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, there are societies in which the pursuit of "perfection" is considered to be immoral. Take, for example the Persian rug makers who deliberately introduce "mistakes" into their designs as a tangible expression that only God is perfect.
And the whole idea that we humans know what's "right" and what is "a mistake" is really, on some level, incredible hubris.
Think of all of the scientific discoveries that were made "by mistake." If Alexander Fleming had done a better job keeping up with doing the dishes in his lab, penicillin might never have been discovered. And had Charles Goodyear not messed up and dropped some of the rubber mixture he was working with onto a hot stove, we might never have discovered how to vulcanize rubber.
It reminds me of a wonderful story that I first heard told by the character Marilyn Whirlwind in the TV show Northern Exposure. The story is actually an ancient one, sometimes credited to Buddhist philosophy, other times Taoist, but I like the Northern Exposure version:
There once was a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everybody said how lucky he was to have such a horse.
“Maybe,” he said.
One day the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky.
"Maybe,” he said.
Next day, the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky.
“Maybe,” the warrior said.
Later, the warrior’s son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky.
“Maybe,” the warrior said.
The next week, the chief led a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior’s son was left behind, and so was spared.
I guess I just think that karma works in mysterious ways, and holding onto everything with white knuckles in an attempt to sway every outcome to our favor, is just not necessarily the best approach.
So I'll leave you with a song on this topic by the fabulous singer-songwriter David Wilcox:
Embrace the OOPS, people!!!!