Some people learn by reading, some by watching, and some by doing. I’m in the latter category. I know I’m supposed to read all of the instructions of a new project first, and I do make an effort. It’s just that I find my mind wandering, or I start saying, “How?…What?” And at some point, I begin grabbing parts and glueing them together. The finished product has a ton of “imperfections” as evidenced by the many patches and paint-overs, or just glaring errors that can’t be hidden, and I think how perfect the next one could be if I did it again because now I know what I’m doing. But the do-over never happens because I don’t repeat projects. I start new ones and I make new mistakes.
All of this explains how I managed to punch dents in the outside of my beachside bungalow as I connected the tapewire; installed the floor backwards; cut a new hole for a staircase on the wrong side of the second floor of the Rye; polyurethaned floors that needed to hold glue; cut piece after piece after piece of wallpaper backwards; and the latest, installed a beautiful, handmade bare bulb wall sconce upside down (or downside up, as the case may be).
Luckily, I’m not a slave to perfection. In fact, I sort of embrace error. I think mistakes tell a better story. And I never learn from the things I do right, but occasionally retain the lessons of things I do wrong. (Except for cutting wallpaper.)
A couple of years ago, I read about the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Forgive my rudimentary explanation, but it roughly boils down to repairing broken or chipped ceramics in gold, embracing the imperfections rather than seeing the work as ruined and deserving of discard. It goes a bit deeper than that, but it’s a beautiful philosophy, literally and figuratively: the resulting ceramics are stunning and far more interesting than the original pieces.
“The man who never makes a mistake, never makes anything.”
I don’t look forward to my next mistake, but there’s always wood putty, and sandpaper, and glue. And the hardware store carries more paint. And the hobby store has another one of “those” in stock. And Lighting Bug would be thrilled to sell me a second Edison bulb. So I embrace my many and repeated mistakes.
Although, it would be nice for things to go my way once in a while.