The Wonder of Autocorrect

Greenwich Sentinel columnists Icy Frantz and Jim Knox (from the Beardsley Zoo). (Bob Capazzo photo)

By Icy Frantz

I am a terrible speller. I always have been. In elementary school, I endured weekly spelling tests, endless nights of memorization and many rounds of song elicited to make learning easier M.I. S.S.I. S.S.I.P.P.I. Memories of 2nd-grade spelling haunt me. As a class we would correct our tests by going around the room, each student spelling out loud a word from the test. When a student misspelled a word, the teacher would make the entire class, in unison, chant, “Woe beyond to you.” I am not even sure what that means but the threat alone kept me up at night, working a little longer to avoid public humiliation. Yet, even with all of this, my elementary training did nothing to improve my bad spelling. This deficit has lived with me, well, until autocorrect came into my life and changed everything.

Autocorrect corrects misspelled words as you type. Brilliant. I am sure you have experienced it. Most of the time it is spot on, but, like most easy solutions, it has its limitations.

Just last week, autocorrect took over and amended the way I sign off and, just like that, “xoxo Icy” became “xoxo Spicey” raising a few eyebrows, I’m sure, from the unsuspecting recipients.

A friend told me that she went running to the Apple Store when she discovered that her autocorrect was “correcting” commonly used words like “the” and “it” to “poopy poo” and “barfyhead” only to discover that her young children had changed the autocorrect settings on her phone to do just that. Brilliant! Who knew that autocorrect could be manipulated?

It got me wondering what life would be like if we could autocorrect in other areas.

You have just eaten a large ice cream sundae. Autocorrect: you have just eaten a small kale salad with dressing on the side.

The wide receiver has just fumbled the game-winning touchdown. Autocorrect: the wide receiver just caught the perfect touchdown pass complete with victory dance and state championship.

I just slept through my alarm and had to rush the kids to school late, dressed in my pajamas with no breakfast and lots of screaming. Autocorrect: I have woken before my alarm, had time to meditate, watch the sunrise and let the dogs out and then greet sleepy children with a hot, home-cooked breakfast.

If only! Unfortunately, with no technological autocorrect feature for life circumstances available to date, it is left to us to do the hard work. How do we avoid the “Woe beyond to you” moments and lead a life that is more purposeful and less regretful?

We can learn a lot from conversations with people in their final days here on earth. When questioned about regrets or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced. Here are just a few.

1. I would have spent more time with the people I love.
2. I would not have spent so much time at work.
3. I would have worried less and spent more time in the moment.
4. I would not have let the little things bother me.
5. I would have been happier.
6. I would have faced my fears and shared my feelings.
7. I would have forgiven more.
8. I would have spent more time feeling grateful.

This might feel like a big jump, autocorrect to the universal regrets of those in their last days of life. I mean no respect. In fact, it is important information that can help all of us lead a better life. And there is a connection. If we establish our own internal autocorrect today we can ultimately manipulate the output and outcome of tomorrow.

A friend of mine used to take a few days every year to think about the year ahead. He would pack a yellow legal pad, a pen, and his running clothes and head far away from his everyday life to write about his goals and his dreams and his wishes and his wants. He would clear his head on a few long runs and return home ready to live his life. Brilliant.

Another friend of mine takes a moment at the end of every day to take a mental inventory. What did I do well? What could I have done better? What words were left unsaid? What relationships need more attention? What relationships need mending? How can I live differently tomorrow? Brilliant.

Life moves along pretty quickly for all of us. I have been known to place a book down on a table, meaning to put it away and a year later it is still there. Without purposeful reflection and intention, that book is destined to stay on that table for a lifetime. The same is true about meaningful change or autocorrect’s so to speak. Without purposeful reflection and intention, we won’t change and correct the regrets we may feel later in life.

Although I welcomed autocorrect into my life with open arms, I am still a horrible speller. My second-grade teacher would be appalled. “Woe beyond to me.” But the holiday season is fast approaching, let’s remember to love more, care more and engage more. No regrets!!! Brilliant!! And with that signing off…

Xoxo Spicey