I have decided to dedicate a post on Thursday to therapy, and offer you the many tips I have learned on the couch. They will be a good reminder for me, as well, of something small I can concentrate on. Many of them are published in my book, “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit.”
All right, “celebrate” is an awfully strong word. So then let’s start with “accept” your mistakes. I’m not suggesting that you brag about them. Don’t make them again, if you can help it. And absolutely do not post them on your Facebook page.
But I do think each big blunder deserves a round of toasts. Or at least a moment of silence and reflection. Because almost all of them teach us precious lessons that can’t be acquired by success.
The embarrassment, humiliation, and self-disgust caused by mistakes are all tools with which to unearth the gold, much like the tale that Victor Parachin tells in his book Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds about the two men who climbed a tall mountain to speak to a renowned spiritual teacher. Writes Parachin:
Bowing humbly, they asked the question which had driven them to the teacher:
“Master, how do we become wise?”
“The teacher, who was in meditation, did not answer immediately. Finally, after a lengthy pause, he responded: “By making good choices.”
“But teacher, how do we make good choices?” they asked almost in unison.
“From experience,” said the teacher.
“And how do we get experience?” they asked.
“Bad choices,” said the smiling spiritual master.
For example, had I not been medicated on three antipsychotics at one time, crossed my eyes, and fell into my bowl of cereal at breakfast one morning, I wouldn’t think to advise you to interview a psychiatrist much like you would a nanny, to do your own research, and to never, ever yield your authority to someone just because he has the right initials after his name. In fact, take away all my mistakes, and this book would be cut down to about four pages.
Poof! There goes my material.
Just like Leonard Cohen writes about in his song, “Anthem,” the crack is how the light gets in. Or, as Anne Lamott puts it, “In holes and lostness, I can pick up the light of small ordinary progress.”