Photo from NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
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I was at the gym and to keep my mind off my tortured muscles, I picked up a copy of Maclean’s and came across an article by Scott Feschuk. Now, you may not know this writer, but Feschuk is funny. I mean laugh-out-loud (LOL, in text-speak), split-a-gut (SAG), have-an-unfortunate-accident (UA ‘sad face emoji’) funny. I should know – I’m renowned for my sense of humour.
So anyhow, he was writing about the demotion of the planet formerly known as Pluto. You may remember when a few years ago a group of astronomers met and said, “This isn’t a planet; it’s a wannabe.”
Says Feschuk, “[A]stronomers wrote a breakup letter to our smallest planet: Dear Pluto, it’s not you, it’s us. They tried to cushion the blow by saying The Object Formerly Known as Planet will serve as the prototype for a new category of ‘trans-Neptunian’ bodies – but that’s kind of like saying, buddy, you’re not a Beatle anymore but, chin up, you’re the best-known member of the Pete Best Five! …
“There’s no denying a certain appeal to the scientists’ decision to take an astronomical mulligan – to admit it was an error to confer full planetary status on Pluto, and to make it right. This sets a good example. Let’s face it: there are bad decisions we all wish we could take back….
“Now, emboldened by the about-face of astronomers, we can take back those bad decisions. We have the power to turn back the clock and erase our most heinous missteps. We can agree that leg warmers were never a fad, Erik Estrada was never a TV star, and the 1980s were just one long, blurry weekend during which we chugged too many Singapore slings and incorrectly reached the conclusion that Don Johnson had charisma.”
See? See?! I told you he was funny. Not as funny as moi, but still.
And he has a point: if astronomers can admit a mistake and re-class Pluto, a whole planet – sorry, “trans-Neptunian body” – then we can admit ours. And we’ve all made mistakes! So let’s admit them! You first.
Back in the 80s (yeah, yeah – I knew every 80s reference he made), I thought it was rad to wear maroon pants, a maroon dress shirt, and a maroon knit tie with black Oxfords. I looked like a not-quite-ripe Concord grape roaming the halls of my high school. Oh, how I weep over that fashion faux pas now! How blind I was! But, lo, I have seen the error of my ways, and henceforth shall wear only earth tones.
Admit it – you’ve made some pretty big blunders too. I’ll bet some of your lapses would make my attempt at trendiness look positively cute by comparison. But then, that’s not the worst of my mistakes, lapses, and yes, SINS. There, I said it – sin!
Those astronomers did us a favour. They reminded us that mistakes need not be forever. God is gracious and forgives us when we confess. We can even – gasp! – forgive each other! So admit it, admit you’ve made boo-boos, errors, and even (gasp!) sinned! God will forgive you. Your spouse might even forgive you. Your friends probably will.
Yes, Pluto is a … whatever it is if it’s not a planet. But it still holds a place in our imaginations. It reminds us that mistakes don’t need to be forever.