To Err is Human, to Own it is Divine

I received this article in my inbox a few days ago from Paula Chaffee Scardamalia, a creativity coach and intuitive, who sends out a weekly ezine called Divine Muse-ings. I thought this one was especially brilliant and wanted to share it with you.  Here it is in its entirety, with Paula’s blessing.

I need to give you a little back story before reading the article.  Last week, a father and son, who are by trade an electrician and plumber, had been digging near Paula’s house.  They did not bother to attain permits to dig, so they didn’t know there was a phone cable there, and cut it while digging.  After discovering their mistake, the pair covered up the evidence and took off.  Naturally, their mistake did not go unnoticed, as she had no phone service for several days.

Message from the Muse – Feature Article

Making Mistakes-a Path for Spirit to Enter

If you have to make mistakes, make them good and big, don’t be middling in anything if you can help it. ~ Hildegard Knef, The Verdict

Mistakes are a fact of life / It is the response to error that counts. ~Nikki Giovanni, “Of Liberation,” Black Judgment

When was the last time you made a mistake?  This morning?  Yesterday?  Last month?  More importantly, when was the last time you admitted, to yourself or others, that you made a mistake?

In our culture, perfection has become the standard for everything we do from baking a cake to raising a child, from painting the house to running a business, from volunteering in the community to serving as governor. But everyone makes mistakes, and the people across the road last weekend are a perfect example of that.

Almost as challenging as not making mistakes, is admitting them. Yet how much better would we be as partners, parents, friends, and business people if we could simply say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” Instead, we work hard at denial and spin, we lie, and even worse we try to cover up (literally in the case of the our diggers) our mistakes. If the people across the road had called the phone company right away, we would all have probably shrugged our shoulders, feeling that it could happen to anyone because everyone makes mistakes. Instead, in denying the mistake, in covering it up and refusing to take responsibility for it, the diggers may end up with fines and other problems.

If we don’t like admitting mistakes, then it makes sense that we work hard to do everything we can to avoid making them. Yet isn’t worrying about making mistakes what keeps us from creating with more ease and depth? Isn’t it the belief that we have to create something perfect that cripples and blocks us? If we can let go of the expectation that we must be perfect in our creative work, then we can allow the perfect imperfections of mistakes to lead us into new territories, new discoveries, new connections of thought and word and image.

Did you know that some Native American tribes intentionally weave in a thread in their rugs, or make a mark in their pots that appear to be mistakes, creating these “mistakes” as a path for Spirit to enter.

A path for Spirit to enter.

In other words, in the midst of our imperfect creations, in the midst of our imperfect selves, we can find the presence of the Divine. How much more healing and helpful is that as a way to look at our all-too-human tendency to err? If we have the wisdom and compassion to accept our mistakes and failures as a path for Spirit to enter then will we risk more in our painting or dancing or business? Will we stop worrying about perfection and focus instead on the joy and adventure of life?

Our lives are not about being perfect. Our lives are about being our best. And that “best” changes from day to day, with each new experience and understanding. Our goal, then, with each new opportunity, is to be and do the best we are capable of. And if we fail or fall short, as we inevitably and humanly will, then we must accept and acknowledge that failure with loving compassion for our humanity, always remembering:

Mistakes are a place for Spirit to enter.

© Copyright 2009, 2010, Paula Chaffee Scardamalia

Intuitive and creativity coach Paula Chaffee Scardamalia publishes Divine Muse-ings, a weekly ezine. If you want to connect with your Muse for an inspired, gutsy and productive life, sign up at

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