For those that balk at this quote because we should be all about continual self-improvement: I'm usually right there with you. But the fact is, we learn best through our mistakes. That's why we're on earth. My cousin David once gave a succinct real-life illustration of this when he described his years of high school wrestling. He said he learned more about wrestling in one lost match than he did in ten matches that ended in success and glory. That was always, always the way it was.
In Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (which I lifted from Dad's bookshelf in Vegas over break), the author, a psychologist and a survivor of the Auschwitz Death Camp, preaches much the same message:
Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.
Think about that for a little bit. I know I had to. Think about where you were five years ago. If you're like me, you will be able to pick out a bunch of things you just want to hit yourself in the head for- and if you're like me, most of them are things I DIDN'T do... not the things I did. What can you do today that will enable you to look back with pride and whimsy, laughter and satisfaction in five years, and ten, and eighty?
I thought about this a lot over Christmas break. One of my least favorite and most prevalent mistakes in 2010 was in fact being afraid to make mistakes, and being too strict or stubborn with myself or others. As a result, my relationships suffered, I didn't apply to that conference in San Diego that I had a PERFECT research topic for, and worst of all, I didn't have any FUN.
2011 comes with no real resolutions. Just a motto:
open heart, open mind.
Because the people I love and admire the most accept others at whatever stage they're in, and they also accept new ideas and can form better, more persuasive thoughts about them than those who make snap judgments. I want to be like that. Motto will help get me there. (And by the way, PROPS to all my friends writing about their new year's resolutions this month. Normally this topic is really mundane- "Read books, run, etc." But everyone was really thoughtful and honest, I loved it!)
I took this semester off of school. I needed a personal break, I want to be there for my family more often, and I want to save money so that when I go back for my final year of my Master's studies, it will be everything I want it to be. I've always dreamed of being a scholar, I love the feeling of walking through bright and storied campuses with books in my arms and a multitude of eccentric thoughts and theories whistling around my head. I believe I have what it takes to come up with new research projects, to see things in late 19th-century art that no one has seen before, and to learn how to impart those things to other open, eager minds. (Small sidenote: I also find it delicious to discuss artwork with people who are NOT open to it. Thank you, freshman year BYU-football-player boyfriend for being my first challenge in that arena).
Don't call my decision a mistake, or do, I guess, if you'd like. I'm doing the best I can here and I have high, HIGH hopes for the next few months (as a baker :). Viktor Frankl says that there are three ways man finds meaning in his or her life: 1. by creating something or doing a deed 2. by experiencing something or encountering someone (highest form: family love!) 3. by enfashioning the correct attitude towards unavoidable suffering. I think I've talked about all three of those on this blog, so I can feel confident that I am continuously finding new meaning in my life. But I want to find more. I want to do more, see more, love more. Outside the library, at least for the next little while. At the close of 2010, all I could think to do was try to open my mind and heart to the people, ideas, and opportunities that come my way. And try not to worry about all the possibilities and potentials that might or might not (usually might NOT) come along.
Here goes nothing! Happy New Year! (I can write that today because it's the two year anniversary of my move to Virginia, and almost the 6-month mark since I've moved to this house. My how time flies.)
Because I like to have pictures on my admittedly art-themed blog, here's just a few things I've seen and thought about lately:
(From my dear friend Mariya- how beautiful! Click for the bigger image to read a William Blake poem that fits right along with today's discussion)