It happens this way …
Last week’s post about my lying to cover up mistakes uncovered a distant memory. It was 1980 and I was standing at the kitchen sink in our Woodbridge home, washing dishes with my Aunt Florence. I blurted out, “I’m thirty-five and I’m still terrified to make mistakes.” I don’t remember what prompted that admission, but I do remember the angst in those words.
It took me decades to become a recovering perfectionist and to earn the freedom to make more mistakes.
I used to blush ferociously when a driver honked at me for some perceived traffic gaffe. I must have been doing something wrong.
I used to feel it was my fault if a meal I ordered at a restaurant wasn’t up to par. It was my mistake for ordering it.
I used to feel gut-punched when an editor rejected a poem. Wrong publication, wrong editor, wrong piece. My fault.
Today – older and somewhat wiser – I’ve learned that there really are no mistakes.
They are only mis-takes – to play with movie parlance – that lead me to the surprising and unexpected.
That wrong turn I took because I was distracted led me to a route around a traffic accident I didn’t know happened. Who knew?
The fancy blouse I bought three years ago and never wore was perfect for a social event this year. Who knew?
Five poems rejected by one publication got accepted individually by three others.
And so it goes.
I’ve decided to embrace what Tallulah Bankhead once said: If I had to live my life over again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.
I won’t wait for the next life to make more mistakes sooner. Today’s a good day. In the process, I hope to discover how much more intriguing life can be after each mis-take.