An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
This bit of wisdom recognizes that mistakes are happening all the time. The desire to avoid mistakes is impossible. We are going to make mistakes and make them everyday, all through the day. Our aspiration can be to make better mistakes, to learn from our experiences, and persist with being flawed and growing human beings.
I feel more relaxed already! The pressure to be perfect is pernicious and can contaminate almost everything we do. It can be so embedded in our perceptions that we don’t even recognize that it is there. Life comes with no instruction book. We are all fumbling around trying to figure this thing out.
Since there is no rulebook, there is no way to know in every instance whether what we have chosen is the right choice.
We’d never learn anything if we didn’t make mistakes. Science would not progress. Writers would not create great works of literature. Athletes would not break world records.
My friend the artist Erik Odin Cathcart recently said, “If I didn’t learn the hard way, I wouldn’t learn anything at all.” I couldn’t agree more.
We can aim for good enough and that helps things to feel less tyrannical. If we approach life as a performance, then we are bound to be tense. If we approach life as a work-in-progress, then we can experiment, play, and laugh at ourselves when we fall down.
Embracing mistakes is not to excuse half-hearted efforts. When we seek to make better mistakes we are committed to growing ourselves as human beings. Every experience, especially mistakes, has something to teach. We can learn from the things that work and the ones that don’t.
When we invite mindfulness into our lives, we invite this commitment to learning as well. Mindfulness practice will make our mistakes, departures, and shortcomings all the more apparent. At the same time, we develop a non-judgmental stance towards our imperfections. We’ll be better people in the next moment (and the one after that …)