I’m giving up my need to be right. It’s not that hard for me. My mouth is often unfiltered by my brain, my tongue wags free range and errors drop into my lap like bird poop. Sometimes I know I’ve said something ridiculous. Other times I cruise right through my misbegotten words onto the next topic and it could be days or even weeks before I realize what I actually said and how dumb it was. The thing is, right now I really don’t care that much about being right. I care more about the exploration of my abilities, twirling my thoughts in the air like a cheerleader’s baton, tossing them up and catching them again to test my mental acuity, the speed and coordination of my mind, the fun of being funny. I want to be entertaining and I realize sometimes the most entertaining thing about me is my mistakes. If my mistakes make you feel good, that makes me feel good.
My memoir is about 20 years of mistakes I made between my 40s and my 60s. In midlife I hit the peak of my powers as a woman, but having power isn’t the same thing as knowing what you’re doing. I was feeling the glory of following my passion, high on my dreams, fabulously myopic, and then I crashed and burned. The good news is that recovering from my mistakes made me strong and built my resilience. But I’m not taking anything for granted. My next really big mistake is just around the corner. Knowing it’s out there is humbling. So, I’m giving up my need to be right.
I could be wrong about everything. It’s a liberating idea. Righteousness is very popular these days. It feels like rebellion to freely admit my ambivalence. But I have a long history of incorrectness in my personal, professional and political life. For instance, as a young ladder climber I thought the government should operate like a for-profit business. This was also the time when I could drink three martinis before wine with dinner and not fall into a coma. I was on my way up in my career, making money for the first time in my life, and I believed in economic Darwinism, survival of the richest. Yes, I was deep breathing my own exhaust, telling myself that the people with more money were better at running the planet.
I’ve given up my need to be right because my track record stinks. I didn’t see how bank deregulation could mushroom into a debt bomb, or how privatization of the public good could lead to utterly inadequate healthcare, or how trickle-down economics would never happen because rich people hoard money. I’m sure someone predicted these calamities, but I didn’t see them coming. Now, I can’t get it out of my head that in hard times like these where the majority of households lack the cash to solve a $400 problem, and 30 million people are unemployed because the pandemic killed their jobs, limiting unemployment benefits to only 70 percent of their previous relatively low income could be a recipe for increased poverty, social unrest and further economic decline. But, of course, I could be wrong.