Columbus day has once again come and gone. It’s a day where we all get off from school, banks are closed and the mail isn’t delivered. What a way to celebrate the DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.
But then again, does this really deserve accolades? Let’s take a closer look at this historical event.
Back in Spain, Columbus wanted to establish a new trade route to the Indies and convinced Queen Isabella to fund his sailing expedition to create a new path to the Eastern Indian continent.
On the surface, his argument made good sense. It had already been well established that if caravans made the trek westbound, they would eventually come across the Asian countries and the Indies. But that’s a long and hard journey, made near impossible by mountains, inclement weather, and crazy tribes of savages. “However, my Queenie” (I can just hear him reasoning), “if we go the other direction, we’ll sail across the smooth and sweet sea and circle around to those countries and we can create powerful and profitable trade routes that way. What do you think about that, sweet cheeks?” (After all, he’s Italian, right.)
Isabella, who I think had a crush on Chris, probably also figured it was a good investment, and so she gave him the dough needed and he set sail.
Well, the first thing he discovered was that the sea wasn’t so easy to navigate. Not only that, but it turned out to be much bigger space than the land terrain that they were avoiding. The storms are much more fierce out there on the open water, and there are no resources to replenish once you set sail—unless you’re a really big fan of sushi.
Of course, we all know that Columbus didn’t make it to his destination, but in fact, he “discovered” America. But what did he really discover?
I’ll tell you what. He discovered a big series of serious blunders and BLUNDERs.
BLUNDER #1- He couldn’t get anyone to buy into his idea. In fact, he had to go to an entirely different country.
BLUNDER #2 – The world turned out to be twice as big as he thought it was. Although by that time there were probably still folk who believed the world was flat, it was pretty common knowledge that one could sail around it completely and come out the other end. (Magellan proved that long before.) But it turned out his journey was much longer than he estimated. (To his credit, the instruments that were used were limiting with their information.)
BLUNDER #3- What we call America had already been discovered by the Vikings hundreds of years earlier. And let’s not forget the people who were already living there. Over 100 indigenous tribes, all living rather peacefully in their own wonderful way.
BLUNDER #4- Along the way, he saw what he swore were mermaid. In fact, they were manatees.
BLUNDER #5– He never made it to his final destination, but instead decided to stick around and mingle with the natives.
BLUNDER #6- In fact, he never even made it to the main land of what we call America, but rather landed on a small cluster of islands in the Caribbean.
BLUNDER #7– Along the way he lost many of his ships and many crew.
And for all this, we celebrate.
Are you kidding me? We’re celebrating failure! Wake up everyone! The guy totally blew it, not once, but quite a few blunders.
So why do we celebrate?
Well, setting aside all the nasty stuff that occurred as the settlers came in and took over, what Columbus DID do was discover a new land where Spain could establish colonies.
He brought back home many new and exciting products, like spices and salt, and also cacao, gold and tobacco (which Sir. Walter Raleigh would later make really popular), as well as new plants like cotton, bananas and potatoes, and even exotic and colorful birds, (yes, there was the slavery and the syphilis, but no sense dwelling on the negative), and this new thing called rum.
Although there were others who had “Discovered” this new land before him, he was the first to establish new colonies, allowing for Spain to flourish and prosper in these new islands.
So now, over 600 years later, we look back on this great big bunch of super big blunders, and can see the success that came from them.
Now, let’s be honest. Have you made any mistakes in your life? Perhaps you were so sure of something, you even thought you had complete proof to back you up and establish how right you were, only to find out that you misjudged and were wrong.
Did you ever struggle to get people to support you, or believe in you and what you were trying to accomplish? Were their doubters, nay sayers, or even people who tried to divert you or get in your way?
Did you do or say something that was so completely obvious, or that someone already knew it or did it before you came along?
Did you ever set out to do something, a task or a goal, and then find yourself thrown completely off course. In fact, maybe you never even completed your original goal.
Did you ever think you did something wonderful, only to have someone point out that it wasn’t really.
Did you ever lose money in the process? Or other possessions? Was your reputation sullied?
Did you ever have someone laugh at you for your error?
Of course you have. We all have. Every single one of us. Including Columbus.
But let me ask you this? Were any of your blunders as large, as costly, as completely off base, as destructive as Chris’? Did you have an entire country counting on you? Were there hundreds of men (or women) not just depending on you, but their very lives were in your hands? Did you actually face the possibility of death by your decision? Were you frightened that you might never see your home and loved ones again? Were you responsible for the deaths of hundreds or more? (Which can happen when you bring syphilis into a country.)
Chances are highly likely your actions were nowhere near that level of failure.
And yet, if we can celebrate Chris’ heavy load of blunders, and all that came out of it, then why can’t we celebrate yours?
And don’t forget. Chris didn’t even have to wait 600 years to see his success. When he returned… apparently a completely blunder and failure, what did he do?
HE ASKED FOR MORE MONEY AND WENT OUT AGAIN!!!
So this week, when you think back on Columbus Day, look back at your own blunder, and realize that it’s probably not that bad. Or better yet, look at what you’re planning, and the blunders you’re afraid of making. And then ask yourself if it’s anything like going to a completely wrong continent.
Chances are pretty high, it’s not. And then find something to celebrate about it.
You know Chris would. And then he’d go back for more.