It’s been wisely said every life is like a snowflake — one of a kind and impossible to duplicate. The poet in us resonates with that. And yet, the pragmatist in us understands we all pretty much come out of the same playbook. There isn’t any great idea or dumb mistake anyone reading this can legitimately claim has been theirs alone. At the core, our 7 billion different lives are all being lived according to the very same blueprints otherwise known as “human nature.”
Now comes a peculiarly American twist.
We Americans have this love affair with heroes. We need them, we want then, we adore them. Heroes help fill the hole in our soul. And yet, we also have this penchant for pulling down these very same heroes from the very same pedestals we put them on. It’s something like the child a month after Christmas discarding what had been their favorite-for-life toy just a few weeks before.
However, here’s where you may want to argue with me.
After watching pedestals go up and later crash down, I have absolutely no doubt that failure — like fame — comes with a formula. First comes the self-destruction [the ancient Greek dramas called it the “tragic flaw”]…next, the public remorse [on television it’s generally known as the “Barbara Walters apology interview”]…finally, after enough public shame, comes the redemption [that point in time toward which the PR advisers have been building their “come-back campaign”].
Surely you need no examples, for they are all around you. Currently former Rep Anthony Weiner, former Governor Mark Sanford, and former Rutgers coach Mike Rice make the point. As have countless fallen heroes in the past including everyone from politics’ Alexander Hamilton and Richard Nixon, to Hollywood’s Fatty R. Buckle and Elizabeth Taylor, to sports’ Mohamed Ali and Tiger Woods. [Mel Gibson is among those fallens still waiting in the wings for his moment].
So here’s the secret.
Don’t sweat the trips and falls. They’re going to come anyway, because they come with the blueprints. The best — though most cynical — advice is this. If your life does trip or fall in public, just remember Americans are almost always willing to forgive and forget. You just have to fake the sincerity of your apologies the same way the big guys do.
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