“Living, of course, is a combination of choices. Bristling with plenty of mistakes along the way. To make mistakes, we have to take the first step. Make the initial attempt.
After all, as we witness from our own lives and others who inspire us, mistakes are their own badge of courage. Mistakes stand as witness to the fact that rather than giving up and standing still and not acting or speaking, we have the courage to take chances and make attempts. And both our attempts and errors — as well as our successes — teach us something significant, if we let them.
Look at all of Dr. William Tan’s attempts to complete a marathon in Antarctica. No other wheelchair athlete has ever tried to cross such terrain. He sojourned there three times over the years, was defeated twice (his own words) and re-designed his Antarctic racing chair and reconsidered how to approach the race after every trial. Finally, a few years ago, he accomplished his goal. (Note: this was part of a his greater push to complete multiple marathons on every continent in brief period of days. He dedicated this effort, in part, to the memory of our daughter Jessie, who had been his patient partner through several Boston Marathons.)
… And look at how Sarah prepared for saxophone jazz solos. Reviewing the rough parts. Playing over and around them, and integrating every possible ‘error’ into the flow of music, so that she could improvise.
Because yes, we are capable of transformation. We believe this. It begins with one step. One turn of the wheel. One note on the saxophone. One prayer. One seed. One whispered promise or resolution.
Bringing such change to fruition is the greater work, and the more extended promise … to each other and to ourselves. It draws on the daily discipline and recurring labor of putting forth energy. Not all at once. And not too much. But paced. Measured. A little bit every day, over time. It’s an ongoing practice of forgiving, believing, loving, tending, nurturing. It means sometimes pushing past discouragement and sorrow and upheavals. Getting dirty and messy and tired. Sometimes letting go or starting again.”
PS: This topic is borrowed as an excerpt (slightly updated) from one of my past journal entries on www.dok.com.