Mistake or prototype?

imageWe all make mistakes. We all do, say, think and believe things that we later determine were not the best thing for us. If we are not careful we spend a lot of time feeling that our mistakes are our failures. We can carry judgements about ourselves based on the mistakes we feel we have made. We can also carry judgments about others based on what we feel their mistakes have been too. A mistake implies a judgement anyway. That something is not the best it can be, or that has unforeseen or unexpected outcomes. So we try harder and harder to get it right, to do, say, think and feel the perfect thing in all circumstances. But we might be fooling ourselves by looking at our mistakes in this way.

I love to cook. There is a recipe to follow. Clear instructions that will result in a perfect cake if followed exactly. Except that some days the scales are a little off. Or my spoon measure is a touch too generous. Or my hand slips when I’m adding the liquid. Or the oven isn’t at exactly the right heat. Does one degree less hot really make a difference? Of course, the best chefs will say any time you go off plan you risk baking something less than perfect. And it’s true. Many times my cakes have been too flat, solid, burnt or misshaped. The local birds have had plenty of crumbs as a treat. Sometimes, and it is getting better with practice, they are light brown circles of heavenly taste. These kind of cakes rarely last more than a day!

Even my mistake cakes have a value, if not for me then for the birds, as making cake disasters lets me work out the very best way to produce something excellent to eat. And the truth is that our mistakes all have a value. They help us work out what hasn’t worked. Mistakes give us clues to the way to do things better for ourselves and others. I like to look at my mistakes as prototypes. Working models of ways in which I can interact with myself and the world. A prototype isn’t going to be right first time. It’s not expected to be. It’s the idea made solid and therefore may have to be tweaked again and again until it is a reliable working whole. Prototypes also show us what is working well and how we might make it work even better. After all, life is never black and white. It’s much more a mixture of grey areas. Going off plan, leaving the recipe behind, might be the only way to develop the prototype at this time.

To help me remember that I’m busy testing prototypes (instead of making mistakes) I focus on practicing unconditional forgiveness. I’m learning to forgive myself for the cakes that came out of the oven scorched. Or the cakes that came out half baked. I’m also applying unconditional forgiveness to anyone else who is involved in my cake making. The baker who wrote such a complicated recipe. The person who phoned just as I should have taken the cake out of the oven & made me forget. Or the person who said they really liked banana cake and then refused a slice of the cake I’d made just for them. I forgive myself for my Marie Antoinette queen bee moments of muttering under my breath ‘let them eat cake!’ The more mistakes I make the more I can practice unconditional forgiveness. How clever is that?

My Guides are big on our unconditional love for ourselves and others leading to unconditional forgiveness. They like the way that energy carries us forward to unconditional gratitude and finally the willingness to serve unconditionally. Sometimes they remind me of that old saying from the Bible ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’ They’re not hot on the word sin. They explain this saying to me this way: if you have never made a mistake then perhaps (and it’s a hesitant perhaps) you can argue that you are in a position to be able to judge others. But think very hard. Then think harder. Mistakes are a natural part of life. Prototypes are your way of being. Before you can legitimately judge others you have to be prepared to judge yourself. Do you wish to be so harsh on yourself that it denies you the ability to love all of yourself? Hopefully the answer is that you don’t really want to be harsh on yourself. Then why do you wish to be so harsh on others? Find the forgiveness for yourself and others. Make a revised prototype and try again.

There is something precious about mistakes. They might bring us or others pain. There might be challenging consequences. Yet each time we create a solution or try to do something differently we are acknowledging that we have grown. We are refining our way of living as a human being. If we are fortunate we are also uncovering our Spirit within. If we look back at our prototypes perhaps what has emerged as a result is a more loving, forgiving, spiritual person that we imagined possible. That person is more closely who we are – our authentic self, tested in experience and growing in wisdom. So celebrate your mistakes. They are allowing you to discover who you are. Design the next prototype and test that model too.

Day 112 of my blogging challenge.