On Mistakes

Picture from behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Picture from behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

I am a perfectionist but I’ve had insight into my perfectionism for quite awhile. Despite that, I have somehow raised children who are also perfectionists. I hate to see them wrestle with this as I have but we do talk openly about the dangers of perfectionism and the ways it can limit us. So, I hope their insight comes earlier in life than mine did.

Recently, I read the following poem by Mary Oliver that I plan to read often to remind myself that I can’t be perfect and I shouldn’t waste my energy on lamenting my mistakes.

The Poet with His Face in His Hands
Mary Oliver

You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

So if you’re going to do it and can’t
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush,
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.