Back in the days when I played more golf than I should have, I learned about mulligans. Mulligans are a variation of second chances. If you hit a shot with your driver off the tee on any one hole in a round and the little white golf ball vanishes mysteriously in deep woods closer to the fairway for another hole – you know for sure you’ll never be able to find your little white ball, but you can say mulligan before you throw your driver in the direction of the same woods. Mulligan means you will have a second shot off that tee before you set off to try to find the driver you threw in the woods. You may hit a beautiful shot for your mulligan or you may not, but the important thing is you have a new opportunity.
In our personal lives second chances are sometimes painfully obvious and at other times so subtle we may miss them. Lesson Number One: Be open, available, alert and don’t think you won’t ever need a second chance. You will. Lesson Number Two: When you get a second chance, try not to think of it as an opportunity to repeat mistakes. Mistakes are hard to take back so don’t blow the mulligan.
Lesson Number Three: Be sure to tell your friends about your second chance. It may give them hope and inspire them to offer one or accept one. Honestly, can there be too many second chances going around? Lesson Number Four: Your second chance may be your last chance. Really? Really.
Lesson Number Five: Never be afraid to take a second chance when you have one. As Franklin Roosevelt famously said when the Hounds of the Baskervilles were closing in around him, We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
I am a survivor of second chances in my 74 years – I have at various times blown them, made mistakes, wished I had been a better person. I also have taken second chances that have brought me much joy and happiness. The point is I have had more than my share of opportunities to make choices.
I have to believe in second chances not only for us as individuals but also for us as communities and as a country. We have collectively failed to fulfill our promises of equal opportunity for all through our systemic racism toward people of color in their pursuit of good health care during the current Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, in their pursuit of a good public educational system, in their need of reliable shelter through affordable housing, in their need of a living wage – in their ongoing fear of police brutality. One of our second chances to do better comes in November when we have a say in our democracy through our votes. We must do better – we must elect new leadership that gives us second chances to become a better people.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.