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If You’re Wrong, Just Breathe (You Might Be Right)

As I was wobbling and falling all over the place last night in my hot yoga class (yes, I’ve been doing this for two weeks now), I got to thinking, “This is so wrong. I think I’m going backward.”  How do we designate parts of our life wrong or right?  And how many “wrong” things have you done that turned out to be “right?”

Then I got home, and my friend Becky had sent me a link to this new blog on Slate; it’s called The Wrong Stuff–written by Kathryn Schulz who’s written a book called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, sadly not coming out until June.  She says:

“What piqued my interest, initially, were two curiously contradictory observations. The first is that there are a staggering number of ways to be wrong in the world. The second is that most of us go through life tacitly assuming (and sometimes noisily insisting) that we are right about nearly everything, from the genesis of the universe to how to load the dishwasher. Not coincidentally, when we do get things wrong, we tend to respond with denial, defensiveness, irritation, embarrassment, and blame.

“As a regrettably textbook example of such a person, I started wondering about the origins and consequences of this attitude toward error. Why is it so gratifying to be right and so maddening to be mistaken? When did the idea of error become tangled up with the idea of sin? What is it about human cognition that makes us so dazzlingly smart yet so liable to screw up? How is it that we as a culture embrace the idea of fallibility (some variant on the notion that “to err is human” is enshrined in every major religious, philosophical, and scientific account of our species) while we as individuals have such a hard time admitting our mistakes? Above all: How does this tortured relationship to error affect our other relationships—whether between spouses, colleagues, neighbors, or nations?”

In the next eight weeks, she’ll be “borrowing” space from Slate to interview various people on the “role of wrongness” in their lives.  First up, an interview with “Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is equally well known for his criminal defense work (of, among others, O.J. Simpson, Leona Helmsley, Claus von Bulow, and Michael Milken) and for his outspoken political commentary on such controversial issues as Israel-Palestine relations and state-sanctioned torture.”

Very interesting.  Her other interviewees will include “This American Life host Ira Glass; author, TV star, and gonzo chef Anthony Bourdain; reformed education reformer Diane Ravitch; high-altitude mountaineer Ed Viesturs; sports writer Joe Posnanski, and others.”

For some reason, this whole “wrongness” thing struck a cord with me.  I’m currently deep into the writing of my second novel, and I can’t stop thinking about how wrong the writing might be, how inept I am at writing.  Who will read it?  Self-doubt grabs my shoulders and squeezes the livin’ daylights out of them.  I feel wrung out, exhausted, by the end of the day.

I’m going have to alter my thinking–that all this “wrongness” might be “rightness” (in disguise).

On the way home last night, the sky was magnificent with huge rolls of dark storm clouds.  A bit of hidden sun lined their edges.  I cranked this song up, loud enough to feel in my bones.  I played it five times before I reached home.

Just breathe.

I’ll see you back here on Monday, since I have a Creative Capital Artist Development Project workshop to attend this weekend.  I’ll be “improving my business acumen” and “capitalizing on best practices for success” and “creating a roadmap for my career” and “deciding what actions to take next as an artist entrepreneur.”  Who knew?

Happy weekend, everyone!

[Post image: Dancer’s Breath, photo by Kristin Corrine Loy at Ohio State University]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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