The Best of Intentions

Sometimes you have the best of intentions, but things just don’t work out the way you thought they might. I experienced a great example of this during the most recent Christmas season, when I attempted to get my wife a special present. For some time, she had wanted a record player so that she could get some old jazz records to listen to. There was one particular color and style of record player that I knew had drawn her attention, and when I went to the store to purchase it, to surprise her with it as a Christmas gift, the only one left was the display model, and that’s when the adventure started.

Because it was the display model, the power cord – a DC adapter – had been misplaced, and the store manager could not find it. I agreed to purchase it at a discounted price, and then planned to go to Radio Shack and find a cord. However, much to my dismay, Radio Shack did not have a power cord that would work. Desperate, I emailed the manufacturer to order a replacement cord, but by this time, I accepted the realization that it would not arrive by Christmas, and so I was forced to wrap a gift that she wouldn’t be able to use when she opened it.

So, of course, when she opened it, I immediately had to explain what happened. The cord arrived only a few days later, and, without telling her it arrived, I plugged in the record player and put on a record to surprise her with the sound. But then, again to my dismay, I could hear no sound coming out of the speakers!   I opened up the record player, and everything inside seemed to be properly connected and in working order, so I put it back together. Then I discovered the source of the problem – the arm had been bent and broken right at the base, and then bent back to appear as if nothing had happened. Finally, I accepted the inevitable, that the record player was a bust, and I would need to buy another one.

Sometimes, that happens in life. You have great plans and good intentions, but then everything falls apart, and nothing works the way that you had planned. What matters after that is how you respond, and I think that you probably have five options. The first is that you can try to fix it. Sometimes that’s possible, with minimal damage or loss, but it’s also just as likely that you’ve gotten to a point that is beyond fixing. Your next three choices are to beat yourself up, to react in anger and take it out on others, or to pretend like it works, even though it doesn’t. In my experience, these seem to be the three most common responses that people take. The reality is, though, that none of these make things better, and in fact, they will most likely make things worse. So that leaves the final option: acknowledge the failure and start over.

In the end, that is most often going to be the best answer. Accept the reality and learn from it. Do things differently, start again, make adjustments and corrections, or even throw it all out and move on to something else. But regardless, sometimes the best of intentions come to naught, and all you can do is accept the circumstances and move forward.

Incidentally, the following week I found a similar record player in the exact same color. I had needed to accept the fact that the first one was broken and that I needed to find a different one. When I did, I found what I was looking for, and I was finally able to give my wife the gift she had wanted.

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