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Forgive Others -- And Yourself -- For the Small Mistakes With Big Consequences


I had surgery on my knee recently, the second in a series of operations to correct a problem with my ACL, the problem being that I don't have one.

I first injured my knee years ago -- many, many years ago -- at a house party. For a reason that completely eludes me now, I was trying to stop a fight between two guys who I later learned had been drinking for the better part of the day.

I was, you may have guessed, unsuccessful at stopping the fray, and when Dude A rushed for Dude B, I got pushed aside. Something popped and I felt searing pain. Once my guy friends realized I was hurt, I then had to talk them out of fighting the fighters. It was kind of a mess, and ever since then, my knee has been, too.

Now, I didn't know the combatants all those years ago. I'm not even sure I knew the person whose house it was. I had no real reason to be invested in the outcome of their fight or in preventing it in the first place. It was just one of those things you do when you're 19, when you think you have a silver tongue and can do anything.

"I'll handle this," I might have said to myself before walking between the two guys.

For the lack of forethought involved in the decision, it's amazing the impact it's had on me over the years.


The injury has been equal parts troublesome and painful, and it's been plenty of work for my husband and extended family, who pick up the slack when I can't walk or drive.

It's gotten me thinking, though, about the decisions we make, decisions lightly conceived but that weigh heavily on our futures, and how hard it can be to forgive others -- and ourselves -- for not foreseeing the consequences.

Some, certainly, are more forgiving, or become so as they age. They watch, with empathy, as others choose poorly. They know that we often see the choice as minor, not knowing it's shifting the path of our lives.

A boy I knew in high school once got into a car with a friend we heard had been drinking. Near his house, they crashed into a tree. The friend was fine, but the boy suffered a traumatic brain injury, one that changed him completely.


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