Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Counting Mistakes

Originally posted on June 24, 2013

There are parts of life where mistakes really do count, they make a difference. Part of this then involve a ready willingness to get quick feedback about what the mistake was and be willing to correct it. For many people this is undercut by tests in which you only learn (much later) your score, implying you should have studied harder—but you don’t know even then what was right and what was mistaken about how you responded.

I just came home from a pleasant evening of square dancing. I made a fair number of mistakes—less than some, more than some. Square dancing is delicious in that if you make a mistake you pretty much get feedback about something going wrong: If you’re lucky someone pulls you around to where you should be. If not, you get lost and maybe the square breaks down. At that point it’s not always at all clear who made the main mistake or what it was. But the caller gathers you together and helps you start again.

It occurred to me that one type of hell would be thinking that it mattered to notice mistakes, to count them. And heaven would be shifting one’s attitude so that it didn’t matter, didn’t count.  Just laugh and start again. There’s a little tiny bit of taking the learning seriously, but much less taking yourself seriously than those who feel all messed up and tight about the mistakes. There’s a pleasant attitude of letting go that lubricates the game and keeps it friendly.

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