May 21 2010
One of my high school teachers liked to tell us: “Life is like a big bowl of vegetable soup—with a hair in it.” I experienced this saying once again this week as two printing errors surfaced in a major publication. Here is what I noticed: First my whole body flooded with a physical response when I read the initial e-mail. Then my mind went crazy with thoughts: “Why didn’t I catch this? How could I have not seen this? Why am I alive?” Then I slipped into a coma of blame: “She should have caught this” and “I am such a lazy proof reader.” I recognized the old pattern and knew I was moving in the wrong direction. I stood up and stepped outside and started to walk towards the corner mailbox. I felt the spring air on my face and noticed the variety of bird songs. I kept my body in motion. I touched the mailbox, turned around and began the journey back. This is a hairpin turn. Within minutes of learning about “the hair in the vegetable soup” I was calm and considering possible creative alternatives. The three steps I know to take when mistakes happen (everyday in our lives): 1) Notice the physical sensation and pause to acknowledge; 2) become aware of polluting thoughts of self-blame and of recrimination towards others; and 3) move and become present to the body and shift to neutral. Wait just a few minutes. Turn around. Come home. Begin Again.