Pobody’s Nerfect – Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D.

They fuck you up, your mom and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.

—Phillip Larkin

Were it not for the wisdom of Seneca, Cicero and Alexander Pope’s
poetry about the divinity of forgiveness,
would we ever stop crying over spilled milk?
We all make mistakes all the time. Deer and moose sometimes spatter
our windshields with blood. Mourned-for dogs and cats
also fail to make it across the road leaving
a carrion meal for shadows of hungry crows circling overhead.
Even squirrels go splat when they leap for a branch that eludes their grasp.

Presidents, statesmen and generals err. Remember Pearl Harbor, Gallipoli, and the reassuring words uttered by Chamberlain? Erroneousness, a flaw of being human: the briefcase left on the roof of a car, a lost wallet, passport, watch or ring.The classmate who dove into a quarry pond the first day of summer after school
let out, hitting a rock that rendered him wheelchair bound the rest of his life.

Not paying attention results in broken bones and puddles of blood. Nobody lives to regret groping for meds in the dark, over-confidently plunging into undertow waters, or too hungry to toss a dented can of ptomaine tuna. The distracted surgeon who almost strangled his wife the night before he cut off the wrong leg, and the very worst of the worst blunders, the DNA exonerated inmate pardoned the day after his execution.

The quest for perfection is doomed. Everyone and everybody is flawed:
the self-tormented, starving young women, relentlessly exercising, striving to look like anorectic models. The life-long damage caused by parents who demand unblemished performance.

Zillions of mistakes crisscross the planet like a plague of mosquitoes too numerous to swat. Guilt and regret can smolder like a fire that won’t burn out. Gnashing one’s teeth in self-recrimination, the well-worn path of self-flagellation, wondering what you could have, should have, would have done, will do you no good. Inattentive, or just plain careless, mistakes happen; learning to forgive yourself, over and over again, the key to learning from experience, as good a teacher as success.