Turn About is Fair Play

As we begin a new circle around the sun, I think it’s a common thing for us to reflect back.  We not only give ourselves a list of goals for the new year, but we give ourselves a scorecard for the past year.  Where did we succeed and where did we fail?  What dreams were realized and which ones were dashed upon the rocks of despair.

Sorry, that’s a bit overly dramatic 🙂

Clearly, the way we chose to label or view things can have a huge impact on the way we see ourselves as a whole.  The label comes to encompass our entire being.  If we “failed” at accomplishing something, even just one thing, we might start viewing our entire lives as being a failure.

So being a lover of playing with words, I decided to take an old idiom and give it a new meaning.  The expression “turn about is fair play” has been around since the 1700s and it traditionally meant that people take successive turns at doing something.  That is the fair and equitable thing to do.  Of course, we humans seem to like to put negative spins on things and over time the expression came to be applied for instances solely of revenge.  Someone else used dirty tricks, and that gives us license to use the same dirty tricks back in retaliation.

But since idioms are mere groups of words whose meaning is not deducible from the individual words, I suppose I can assign whatever meaning I want to them.

Believe it not, I’m going somewhere with this 🙂

Today, I decided to “turn about” and instead of looking back over 2018 and tallying successes and failures of such a limited time frame, I’d do the whole-life score card.  After all, isn’t it fair play if I am to be judging myself to make a more global assessment than just one small snap-shot in time?  And to put it in proper context, I sat down and wrote out what my “global dreams” were for this life, as best as I remember them, and see which ones of those were dashed upon those rocks of despair.

Dreams do change over time.

Measures of success change over time too.  And I’m thrilled to have experimented along the way even if the outcomes didn’t always go as planned.  Those experiences don’t count as “failures.”

Guess what I discovered?  There were really only three things I set out to accomplish that didn’t materialize.  And two of those were career related, one of which I had absolutely no control over because I was apparently the wrong sex.   That should leave you guessing 🙂

And career dreams weren’t anywhere as important as the personal and interpersonal aspirations I’ve had.  There was one such dream that became time-limited.  I realized it but only held onto it for 20 years, but as I noted, dreams do change.

Over six decades, that ain’t so bad.

You see, I’m not so much of a miserable wreck as I thought 🙂

I bet you’d be surprised at just how amazing you are too, if you’d turn about and fairly look at life’s accomplishments in a different light.


Photo: A Gulf Fritillary.  I caught this image when I was down in Mississippi at the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  These guys were everywhere and I tried multiple times with a couple of different cameras to capture one with its wings spread open.  But they were just too fast for me.  They teased me.  The turn about – the skies were literally filed with their full beauty, but I could only capture it with my eyes and print it in my mind.  Fair play.  I like this image.  No failure here.  It’s still beautiful.  The weight of the butterfly, as tiny as it must be, bent the stalk of the flower it landed on.  It’s a small glimpse of its full color.  But do I need more for that beautiful memory?

Taz: I took Taz with me to Mississippi because I thought it would be fun if he got to play on the beach.  The second day we were there he became deathly ill, his stomach had twisted.  This apparently can happen with large dogs and for no apparent reason.  I found an emergency veterinary hospital in Biloxi and the vet there operated and saved his life.  When I returned home, I had the local vet check him over.  They started calling him the “miracle dog.”  They don’t even do that surgery here.  It’s too risky and rarely do the dogs survive.  It was almost as though we made that entire trip to have Taz in the right place at the right time to be saved.  Fate?


On an interesting side note.  I had a nice conversation with the young ranger at the visitor’s center at GINS and I was really impressed with his knowledge of biology.  A year later, almost to the day, I ran into this same ranger in southern Az.  Almost on the Mexican border.  He had rotated  his assignment.  He didn’t remember me as I’m sure he’s seen a million faces passing through those visitor centers, but what a small world, eh?

Similar themes: I seem to be hitting on the topic of self-judgment here lately and a couple of my other recent posts on this include:

Give Yourself Permission




13 thoughts on “Turn About is Fair Play”

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