I was first introduced to the concept that there is no such thing as a mistake by an art teacher in school. I learned that my painting was even more beautiful with every brush stroke, not just the ones I intended. That the things I thought were “mistakes” were my own creativity shining through on the canvas. This concept has served me well and still helps me enjoy the process of making art. If there are no mistakes, then it is all just pure fun and joy.
I have carried this lesson over into my life. While there are things I immediately wish I would not have done, later I can sit back and look at the big picture. I can see that those very things help to make up the colorful, unique imprint that is my life. And, like in art, if I do not like the big picture, I can change it with a few more brushstrokes, often without anyone even knowing that I spilled some paint – or tripped over my own feet on that last dance step.
If we stumble?
Let’s be honest, we all stumble and trip. It is a part of the human experience. Sometimes we are not graceful at all. We are not all athletic, by any means. And even professional athletes stumble. They drop balls and fumble too. If we are self-conscious about our movement, we may never dance – or, if we do dance, we may not enjoy the movement. But what if there are no mistakes in movement? What if our stumbles actually make our dance moves even more interesting and fun?
A stumble step is a great antidote for perfectionism
Because we are all human, we trip, stumble, and lose our balance every once in a while. But if we can just keep our feet moving, we can make it a part of our dance. We can learn to move through moments when we judge our steps to be “wrong” and just keep going. We can stop wasting our energy trying to hide or cover up our perceived missteps. We can choose to work around our fears of being imperfect. We can choose to laugh, enjoy and just keep moving. We can decide that the less than perfect dance is actually perfect for us.
“The only way to do it is to do it.” – Merce Cunningham
If we are nervous to start that dance we have been dreaming about – in any aspect of our lives: To begin a relationship, write a book, organize our homes, lose weight, or make a career change – this perspective can help us to get started. If we relax and do not put pressure on ourselves to be “perfect” in our steps, we can enjoy the movement of our lives. Whether it is an actual dance, or it is a hobby we would like to start.
Enjoy the process
Dancing is about the process of movement, of our steps in each moment, not the final achievement. Since we are going to stumble anyway, we might as well embrace all of our steps. When we think we have made a mistake, we can just keep on going. It is a great metaphor for life – just keep moving and do not let perceived mistakes keep us from dancing. It is the heart and soul of dance.
The dance belongs entirely to the person who is experiencing it. No two people will move their bodies exactly the same way in any particular moment. And that is a beautiful thing. When we focus on the steps in front of us and simply enjoy the process of the dance, we are successful. If we dance to our own music, with our own steps, and use every stumble as an artistic element of our dance – we can create joy and beauty in our lives.
Even in the worst case scenarios – when we actually do fall on our faces, we can make that a part of our dance. We can pretend that we intended to do the worm all along. We can take the first step and get started today. All of our steps are a part of our dance. We know we have succeeded when we enjoy the process of moving our bodies without judgment of ourselves. Our dances are uniquely our own and that makes them all very special. Let’s turn on our music and get our bodies moving today as we make our stumbles a part of our dance.