Sunday, February 19, 2012

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes"

Neil Gaiman is a writer in many forms, including novels, comic books, and screenplays. He wrote at least one Doctor Who episode. On his blog in December he wrote this, which is what I need to learn this year and wish I had learned many years ago, since I've always been afraid of making mistakes:
"And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever."


Christine said...

Jennie - this seems like a good new mindset for you; how do you feel about it, and how are things going? I feel like I am risk-averse as well, but keeping Lent is always a great way to shake things up. I'm taking a yoga class (no eastern religion, just exercise that I know I need), and trying to make time for friends instead of hoping that nothing is ever on my calendar beyond the "must-dos".

I struggled with some high school friends the other night, when one of them said about her 21-year-old son "We just hope that soon he'll be sexually active! We even gave him condoms for Christmas!"

I was so disgusted/mad/defensive that I left very quickly, and wish I'd had the fortitude and serenity to stay in the discussion. What would you have said?

Jennie said...

Hi Christine,
I think it's a good mindset. When I read Gaiman's post it really struck me and resonated. At this point in my life, I feel ready to come out of my shell and 'spread my wings'. I'm not afraid anymore, at least not so much that I'm paralyzed by it. I feel I should have come to this point 30 years ago when I was supposed to be growing up. I got stuck somewhere along the way, in depression and fear.
I've made some progress this past year by joining the worship team and starting the ladies' prayer group, both of which of course are not going anymore. Now I may be doing something I read about 25 years ago when I was in college for art education. I'm about to sign up to attend a workshop in July by Frank Covino, who is a master portrait artist and painter in the manner of the old masters. He's been teaching his methods for more than 30 years. He did a painting which I saw in The Artist's Magazine way back then in an ad for his workshops: The Return of the Lamb as a Lion. If you go here and scroll down, you'll see it:
What do you think of it?

Jennie said...

I'm rather horrified by what your friend said about her son. It would depend on how comfortable I felt with the person, but I would want to say that I try very hard to protect my own children from being sexually active before marriage, because of the harm it does to all parties. I might ask them what their son thinks about this very serious and personal matter. If the people are not Christians I don't know that I'd push it, since they don't have the same mind, but I hope and pray I could say something to bring light without being condemning. I'm often timid, but am getting less so. I don't know, it's so easy to write something here which I might not be able to say in person.

Christine said...

I'm so glad you're going to that workshop - really something to look forward to. I have no artistic ability whatever.

With my liberal high school friend, her mother had just passed away which was the reason for her being in town, so I wouldn't have wanted to be overly aggressive. She is a Unitarian. When you say "What does her son think?" - that was along the lines I was thinking. I wish I would have calmly said, "Why would you criticize, even mock, your son's choices? I would consider his lifestyle to be one of maturity and integrity."

Part of what made me so frustrated is how a liberal-minded person doesn't hesitate to put a viewpoint right in your face as though all enlightened people agree. She knows a couple of us are practicing Catholics, one a practicing Lutheran, and we wouldn't dream of going out of our way to offend her. You know what I mean? Arggh. If I could just keep silent and thoughtful until and unless I came up with a constructive non-attacking response, then maybe I could call myself a mature adult!

Jennie said...

I feel similarly about myself as far as being a mature adult. Often I feel like I'm still about 6, or maybe 12, at least emotionally. My problem is I've usually kept quiet from timidity, or if I've spoken I've spoken without thinking it through. I need to switch it around and keep quiet through self control and speak from wisdom.
Yes, it's striking how people with worldly mindsets assume they are correct and superior just because they know they are with the majority.
It's very annoying. Course, I've been guilty of assuming I'm correct just because I'm not with the majority. Guess it works both ways :)

Jennie said...

I keep reading through Neil Gaiman's words again, and every time I do, it makes me happy. I think it's because his words set me free from fear and timidity. They give me permission to be who God created me to be, and to fall down and get back up again, instead of being paralyzed.