I saw a video of Elliott Smith, today, that I've never seen before. The other people on the stage keep apologizing for their mistakes, and bringing attention to them, saying things like, "Get your score cards out, because there's gonna be a lot of mistakes."
Elliott says, "I don't think the point is to make no mistakes..."
I believe this, about everything.
In fact, I think that we love people better because of their mistakes.
I love mistakes. They are a place where love can get in.
My 5 year old is a perfectionist. It isn't her fault. She is so beautiful and good and she very nearly does everything right, all the time. She's sweet and well mannered and even tempered and empathetic. She's smart and funny and hardworking and brave. (I don't take credit for this, by the way. She's just a special, sensitive person.)
But, she's also devastated when she makes a mistake.
We talked about it the other morning. How mistakes help you to grow. "Did you feel that?" I asked her. "You just learned and grew up a little bit. I'm so proud of you for that."
When you do something right, you already know how to do it. You've already made it. Messing up is a holy thing. It activates humility and compassion and love, in ourselves and in others. It shows us that we need other people, we need kindness and friendship. We need to be forgiven and accepted. We need to be able to forgive and accept.
It's tricky, though. Mistakes can make us feel a lot of things.
There are also things that people call mistakes that are really just selfishness and greed. (Those things are mistakes, too. Just a deeper kind.) Forgiving them doesn't mean that we stay with being hurt, or that we keep those people in our lives so that they can hurt us again. We get to decide what we want to live with. We get to live with what makes us better, healthy and whole. I believe that we can probably still forgive, and learn to love ourselves better, at the least, when those hard mistakes are wielded against us.
I've been afraid of making mistakes my whole life, just like my girl.
I've never been very graceful at handling criticism.
I've always felt a lot of pressure to get a perfect score.
I've never been able to stand it when someone decided not to like me, or keep me as a friend.
I believe that the point isn't to make no mistakes, though.
I'm learning slowly. I'm making a hole where the love can get in.
It's such a relief to be able to forgive myself and grow.