Hello dear ones,
I just realized that this beloved quote by James Joyce ties in with my previous post on the meaning of doors. A beautiful coincidence. Also, Joyce speaks of errors as portals and today marks the summer solstice with a full moon in the northern hemisphere. A day celebrated by our ancestors in deep connection to the cosmos.
“A [wo]man of genius makes no mistakes,” James Joyce wrote in Ulysses. “His [her] errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”
What if mistakes where truly not wrongdoings but portals of discovery as James Joyce asserted so beautifully? Would our anxiety diminish over making a choice if we knew there is no ultimate ‘right’ choice and therefore no ‘wrong choice’ either, just what feels most aligned and in tune with who we are or who we are becoming?
What does a life of all seemingly ‘right’ choices look like? A little sterile for my taste. I’d rather go for choices that are life affirming, challenging, with the potential to makes us grow, shed our skin, fall to our knees and experience the rebirth of our innermost being as we rise again. We are that vulnerable and that strong.
If avoiding mistakes can make our lives sterile, can embracing our mistakes make our life fertile then? Let’s start by saying that avoiding mistakes or failures could rob our life of authenticity and flow. We may relax and live life more fully without the constant fear of making the wrong move, without the state of paralysis that relentless analysis and the search for perfection bring about. Perfectionism is such an internalized demon in our culture. It eats away our soul. Brene Brown shines some light on this corrosive tendency:
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life…Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism…” ~Anne Lammott, Bird by Bird:Some instructions on writing and life
When something is frozen, it is in a state that prevents motion. One feels stuck, paralyzed. What then is the axe for the frozen sea inside us? What is our medicine? We all have something that brings us warmth and aliveness, something that can awaken flow in our hearts and lives. Let’s embrace it.
Failures can be reframed as a sign of a rich life. By failures I don’t mean aborted efforts, I mean risks taken with a full heart and clear mind, risks that eventually don’t lead where we thought they would but that provide ground for learning and become compost for new life.
“If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks,” Debbie Millman via brainpickins
“Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before,” Neil Gaiman commencement speech of 2012
“Don’t be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.” ~ John Keats
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you failed by default.”~ J.K. Rowling Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”
Many wise elders say that at the end of one’s life one will most likely regret what one didn’t do, what one was too afraid to explore beyond the safely of our comfort zone. Failure, what we once interpreted as a catastrophic ending, can actually signal a glorious beginning, a gift, a blessing. Just when you thought everything ended the seed sprouts.
Dear wanderers, take risks, make mistakes, embrace failures, get drenched in life. Fear not, for life guides our blooming. And when we feel that we have ‘failed’ in this blossoming, perhaps it is only a sign that there will be a brighter unfolding of our true nature, one breath away. May we be filled with the courage to live, fully.