A few nights ago, around 7pm I parked my car at a meter, put money in the meter, looked right at a TOW AWAY sign that read, No Parking 2pm-4am, and walked right on to my destination. In my mind the sign read, No Parking 2am-4pm. I was wrong.
In her TED Talk, Kathryn Schulz speaks about the nature of making mistakes. She has made a career of studying mistakes and why, when given clues and facts, we still end up on the wrong side of right. In fact, she calls herself a “wrongologist.” With such an official title, it’s no surprise that she hits on a few big truths in her talk. (Would you expect any less from TED?)
It’s human to make mistakes. We all do. I don’t think anyone disputes that. I say this from the cozy, little toadstool of rightness I like to perch myself upon. Admit it, we all sit on one. The idea that we are sometimes wrong is so abstract that it takes a wild leap to connect that idea with ourselves. It means stepping off our toadstools and being open to the idea that we could be wrong in any given moment. And if you really like your toadstool, there is nothing fun about stepping off of it.
I’m 27 weeks pregnant and I find myself sitting in a big pile of wrong quite often these days. Jeremy calls it pregger brain. Honestly, it’s a real thing. He’s not making it up. I heard about it before I realized it was happening to me. I thought it was a result of us pregnant ladies trying to do too much or feeling overwhelmed by all the life changes – getting big, getting enough iron, enough protein, enough exercise, and enough sleep. Nope. I don’t feel overwhelmed at all. So that’s not it.
Maybe it has to do with restricted blood flow to the brain…
In any case, it’s a real thing much to Jeremy’s dismay. My dear, mostly patient husband has kindly brought each and every one of my mistakes to my attention. (You see, he really likes his toadstool of rightness too.) I’ve never been so wrong so often in such a short period of time. Coming face to face with my fallibility isn’t fun. I’m sliding right off my cozy toadstool. Splat!
In exploring why we cling to our toadstools so tightly, Schulz, the wrongologist, asks, “How does it feel to be wrong?” And here’s the big fat truth she hits home: it feels like being right.
How many of us are wandering around in the world completely convinced that we are right, but in actuality are very much in the wrong? And how are all these wrong people getting on in the world? Well, they are out there, making mistakes just trying to figure this whole life thing out. These people are you and me.
According to Schulz “If you really want to rediscover wonder, you need to step outside of that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, ‘Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.'” She explains that being wrong is what makes life interesting. It gives us plot twists and surprises. It makes for a good story. Oh, how I love a good story!
So, this is how I chose to see my mistakes – as plot twists, sharp turns in the road of life. Just when you thought this clever girl would do the smart thing, she goes and makes a mistake. Ooooooo! The intrigue!
And let’s face it, on the brink of parenthood, I’m about to make lots and lots of mistakes. Instead of seeing this as impending disaster, I’d like to think that this is where the story gets really good.
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