Sunday, May 19, 2013

Doing It Wrong

A good thing about a plain-Jane stockinette piece that's all loose and floppy is that mistakes don't matter quite so much. If I don't end up with the same number of stitches at the end of a row as I had at the end of the previous, well, it won't be all that visible. Realistically, it won't be visible at all. I made a mistake this morning I still don't know how I made, and I resisted the temptation to tink back, find the exact nature of it and Fix. It. ... and it got me to thinking about doing things wrong. Which goes back to that "allowing" of my first post. I have a habit of not allowing stuff in my life, and not allowing myself to do a lot of stuff, which generally means not allowing mistakes. Because to do is to do things wrong part of the time, particularly when you're learning, and then you're doing things wrong almost all the time. And oh, the grenades I lob at myself when I do things wrong.

There's been lots of opportunity for grenade lobbing since I started taking swimming lessons. Swimming requires coordination of moving body parts like knitting does, just on a much larger scale. Reach out, pull through, reach out again, breathe, and keep it all going by kicking just about as hard as you can. For someone like me who hasn't felt at home in her own body since learning to walk, this feels like reining in an epileptic octopus. The reality of learning to swim, like learning to knit, is harder than it looks, harder than thinking about it, than thinking about how nice it would be to swim or to knit.

In the meditation class I listened to today, Scott was talking about how lovingkindness meditation can change our whole experience of ourselves and our lives, and a student asked, "So how does that work?" Scott politely declined to answer that question, saying that it literally isn't worth talking about. He said he can't explain "how," we have to do "how." It reminded me of one of my first knitting classes, when the teacher showed me a new technique and I simply couldn't imagine how it would work. She said, "I can't explain it; you just have to do it and you'll see."

The only way to swim or to knit or to live a loving life is to do it. And to do it, I have to at least start to embrace doing things wrong. I think I can start to find that embrace through mindfulness practice, by just observing my response to doing things wrong and enveloping both the mistake and my response to it (even if it's ugly self-recrimination for some of life's more serious mistakes) in lovingkindness.

Sensory and Other Pleasures

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