Thursday, March 25, 2010

Error is not Forever

There is a great intimacy from putting pen to paper that I cannot experience from typing and tapping away on a keyboard. It's nice to complete a thought without the instant corrections of spell and grammar check popping up like a surly English teacher wielding a red pen. I wish I could explain this to my children, especially Chase. He has been extremely pen-phobic, afraid of making a mark he can't undo. More than undo--obliterate. I suppose we are all afraid of making mistakes these days. When your mistakes can be instantly broadcast and mocked to the four corners of the Earth, it is much easier to fall into the familiarity of what you know. It is a safe and well-worn path through life.

Perhaps the problem is in equating mistakes with failure. After reading through all of the various definitions in my low-tech Merriam-Webster dictionary, I can honestly say I did not find one mention of "failure" among the various meanings of "mistake", and vice-versa. In fact, the term "failure" seems complete and irrevocable in its definitions (a lack of success; deficiency; deterioration; decay) while "mistake" seems to offer some hope of change (misinterpret; misunderstanding; error).

Mistakes are a form of learning. We often forget that in our modern, fast-paced, success-at-any-cost world. As Ms. Frizzle of The Magic School Bus would say, it's time we "Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" We cannot learn or do anything new without taking some risks!

For myself, I think I will take more time to turn away from the computer, put down the pencil, and do some writing in pen. It's amazing to see the thoughts that freely flow from ink.

Author's note: This post was transcribed from my journal, a simple spiral-bound notebook with book quotes along the top of the pages. It was originally written using a Pilot clicky pen with jet black gel ink, which doesn't smudge when I'm writing. This is important when you are left handed. Spell check has put a red line under the words "versa" and "clicky". I am letting myself be content with my choice of words and leaving them as is.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sweetie! I couldn't agree more. What a wondeful sharing! I remember one of the lessons from the #1 personality (Miss Perfectionist) on the Enneagram. Life is about change and growth - if you're not making mistakes, it means you're not trying something new, you're not growing. Add this to your excellent comments. PS I also love paper and pen. Love, MOM

me said...

What a thought. I love it. I am a pen and paper kind of girl when it comes to journals but when I am writing essays and other papers, I have to use a computer for the simple reason that I type much faster than I write and often lose track of thoughts I had while writing with pen. My son simply hates writing...period. I think I finally have it figured out though. He is a Type A personality and it has to be done right the first time or not at all. A rough draft? Pffttt. No such thing to him, other than perhaps adding a new thought. His spelling and grammar and structure HAVE to be correct the first time or he is upset because it was not "perfect".

I think he gets it from his father... ;)

jugglingpaynes said...

me: Thanks for your comment! I will agree that I can also type pretty fast now compared to writing, but I can only type here (no laptop) which is a major traffic route between the kitchen and living room. My notebook will follow me and curl up on the couch with me and record my thoughts as they come instead of waiting for me to boot up the computer. I also don't have the distraction of spell check, email dings (my computer dings) and open browser tabs. :o)

40winkzzz said...

i'd forgotten about that ms frizzle quote! i need to have fuzz paint that on a banner to hang up in our school/craft area... or really, anywhere in the house. a few people at me house (including me) need to be reminded that mistake does not = tragedy.

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