To Err is Human

     “Imagine a different world, one in which people do not spend an inordinate amount of energy fuming against their fate each time they make a mistake. A world in which one takes for granted that if things can go wrong, they probably will.

     It would be so civilized. Folks would bump into furniture, miss deadlines, get lost on the way to the airport, forget to return phone calls, and show up at parties a day early, without getting unduly annoyed with themselves.

     Dream on. This forgiving world is as utopian as Shangri-La. Though we all agree that to err is human, each of us individually believes that he or she is the exception…Make a mistake? Not on my watch!”

     Why is it so hard to cut ourselves some slack? Why are most of us prone to think/feel that if we “bump into furniture, miss deadlines, get lost…” etc., not only is it not okay, but we’re not okay? It’s true that when such things happen we are probably not at the top of our game, but show me the person who always is, and I’ll show you someone who is painfully intense and likely very judgmental.

     In her book The Art of Imperfection, author Veronique Vienne sings the praises of relaxation, chilling out, lightening-up, being more zen – easier said than done. Wired is a word that comes to mind when I ponder our propensity for perfection, driven is another. When we are unable or unwilling to allow ourselves room to fall short of being our ideal self, we flirt with stress and burnout if we’re lucky – a stroke or heart attack if we’re not.

    “By your stumbling, the world is perfected” claims the Hindu sage Sri Aurobindo. It’s not a question of whether or not we will stumble, but of when and how often. The saying “to err is human” is not an acknowledgement that humanity is flawed, nor is it permission to be a slacker; rather, it is an invitation to cut ourselves some slack, and to revel in the truth that the human condition, though less-than-ideal, is pretty amazing nonetheless.

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