Sunday, March 22, 2009

Capturing Accidents & Making Mistakes

This painting is from a series called "Zen Squared" which is based on the good ol' Zen circle or enso.  So if a Zen circle represents emptiness what does a Zen square represent?  And this is squared so that means, well whatever it means to those of you who are more mathematically inclined than I.  Me, I'm more interested in words, than numbers.  This paintings seemed the perfect vehicle for some slogans, some inspirational words.  Quotes and  little inspirational quips rank as one of my favourite things, perhaps up there with chocolate and cheesecake.

This one "Capture Accidents, Make Mistakes" is based on Bruce Mau's (a Canadian Designer with an international reputation) Manifesto For Creativity.  Over the years I think there have been a lot of quotes regarding the value of mistakes: things like, "if you don't make mistakes you're not really trying."  

I love the sentiment of capturing accidents.  Somehow in my mind I see a little mistake wandering by and a guy with a big butterfly net catching it, gotcha!  There is something very wonderful and very Zen about capturing an accident, the two words seeming at odds, yet mingled together they create something new and surprising and wonderful, the unexpected.  To "capture" seems so full of intention, while that "accident" just happened kind of by surprise.  It takes awareness to see the value in an accident and then intention to capture.  And finding an accident worth capturing, now there's a Zen moment!  Get ready to pounce, kitty!  Awareness, intention and action all need to come together for us to transform the haphazard into something helpful, or something of beauty or whatever the end result may be.

Make mistakes.  Well how can we help it?  But it seems like we find mistakes shameful or distasteful.  We spend a lot of time avoiding them or pushing them away (it's own kind of attachment).  But in fact it is full of the Dharma, to make mistakes.  Often when we decide to take some action, it is really an experiment in our little life laboratory.  We don't know if whatever plan of action we choose is going to work or splat us in the eye with something that smells bad or stings.  It takes courage to make mistakes when you think about it, to willingly put yourself in the position where you know you have a 50/50 chance of being wrong (or worse odds).  

And, it's humbling to actually publicly admit we've made a mistake.  Mistakes are great teachers.  They teach us how to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again (as the slightly sappy musical line goes).  And what can be more valuable than learning how to correct our course, move from where we are, and work with what we've got.  What's that other old quote, "life is not about getting what you like, but liking what you get." Okay if I'm throwing out quotes like darts in a carnival game, here's one I found the other day that I loved at first site,  "Act the way you'd like to be, and soon you'll be the way you act."  - Leonard Cohen

I love quotes that inspire me, make me think or act in some way that pulls me past my normal, habitual way of being, that as Cohen says "make me act they way I'd like to be".  And for that I love to read a little Dharma everyday, mostly from the collection of favourite books I have around the house or some new one I have discovered.  Maybe that's tomorrows blog, my favourite Buddhist books.  I have a few!  

So I think we are all experiencing the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."  Are there favourite quotes or quips out there.  C'mon, I know you've got favourites, play nice and share!


  1. Hi Carole!

    Here's a couple of favorites of mine. The first one I have posted on the visor in my car - of all places :)

    "No matter what happens to you, you are always standing in the middle of sacred space - standing in the middle of a scared circle...

    Everyone who walks up to you has entered that sacred space and it is not an accident...

    Everything that comes into that circle and exists with you there has come to teach you what you need to know to open your heart..." (And I add - including our mistakes :)
    Pema Chodron

    Or this one - which I keep on my bathroom mirror:

    "To bow to the fact of our life's sorrows
    and betrayals (?mistakes) is to accept them;
    and from this deep gesture we discover that
    all life is workable."
    Jack Kornfield

    As always - Christine

  2. Great quotes, great places for them to hang out.

    What a wonderful thing to try and remember, especially when the going gets tough and we feel angry or confused "everything that comes into that circle and exist with you there has come to teach you what you need to know to open your heart." So helpful when we're trying to make sense of difficult things that come to us.

    Ah yes to accept our sorrows and betrayals and bow to them as our teachers. There is a freedom in this, don't you think

    Thanks, Christine

  3. I think quotes are very important for wishing someone, it also inspiration for us. Excellent collection about mistakes quotes. Thanks a lot for doing like this job!!