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A Mistake Is to Commit a Misunderstanding

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 “A mistake is to commit a misunderstanding.” These are some pretty powerful words quoted by Bob Dylan, and I could not agree more. Misunderstandings … they are the nucleus, the axiom so to speak, where every single relationship will be tested. They can cause catastrophic casualties to friends and families, in an unprecedented amount of time. If misunderstandings were human, I believe they would take on a persona of their own with names such as … “Awkward silence”; “Avoidance”; “Blame”; ”Grudge”; “Gossip”; “Petty”; “Self-Righteous”.


It can start with something as subtle as a glance, to an awkward silence or pithy comeback and even a unpremeditated action that caused a chain reaction of ideas and beliefs that set off like wildfire … and has the potential to demolish everything in it’s path, that ever existed. The reason they are called misunderstandings, is simple … it’s a failure to understand something the way it really happened or to misinterpret the intent of an action. We just tend to put our own slant on things … and somehow, I think that appeases us or justifies our own reactions to how we handle a situation. Our license to hurt others.


I sort of picture myself and everyone in my life, as puzzle pieces … a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation, should not give anyone else the power to decide if I did or didn’t intend to do something … especially not without my consent. Everyone at some point has either misunderstood someone or has been on the receiving end of one. Relationships become fragmented and even dissolve because they don’t have the missing pieces or the “facts,” that could complete the puzzle. Oddly enough, the word puzzle means to “wonder about”. We can’t possibly see the whole picture until we put it together piece by piece. That means we need each other, and we have to lay all the misunderstandings out on the table in order to put it back together again. The problem is that when, “Awkward Silence” or “Blame” or “Gossip” rear their big ugly heads, we upset the delicate balance between rivalry and reconciliation.


It’s not very often that a person comes to a place where they make a genuine attempt to resurrect a fractured relationship. To risk everything on a hope for reconciliation … I tried this once. I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned that I have the capacity to forgive in spite of overwhelming hurt. I learned that I am a much better person than I have been perceived to be and most of all, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the other person the way they wanted to be perceived. They had the chance to right a wrong. In a few short sentences, they solved the puzzle for me.  I would risk it all again, because without risk, it would all still be an enigma … a missing piece without closure.



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