It’s beyond my scope to write this, because in this moment, the unknown, including mistakes, feels terrifying. But I started thinking of my kids tonight, the biological offspring that I will not have. I don’t know why. Maybe because Mother’s Day just passed, and the phone message from my mom said, “I’m proud of the life you have made.” It moved me, but then my panic grew in the last few days as I obsessed over the message. How did I make this life, I wondered tonight? What would I tell my children? The answer came simple.
I would tell them I made many beautiful mistakes. Useful mistakes. Mistakes for which I have intimate fondness, and I plan to make many more until I die.
As I stayed with this phrase it resonated, it grew. I’ve been wrong a lot and it’s helped me be new when I had no other way forward. So although I can’t believe I’m saying this, to my imaginary children, may you make beautiful mistakes. May you give too much love to a cause, a faith, an institution. May it shut down two thirds of you and make the other third bloom and sizzle with fireworks that pull down heaven. May it bring you hundreds of trusting eyes that say, “Okay, it’s hard, but I’ll try,” and may you cry over every single one of them until there are no tears left for you. May you leave way later than you should so that you will be ready to understand that time is not linear, control is an illusion, and to be whole you must be allowed to stay fluid.
May you follow a boy or a girl who does not love you across a state, a country, the world. Outside of your bunker, may you see everything that your old gods kept from you. May your anger at being lied to burn the whole fucking city to the ground. Yes, your buildings will burn too, but the things that survive will now catch your eye in a way they didn’t when they were background clutter. Don’t flutter or bat an eyelash as you bend yourself into the wrong shape, for her or him, so you may know what the right shape is– uncurl your toes, scoop up the skin that melted at his touch, and listen to the green blood of trees till you can hear and reconstruct everything.
May you put your trust in friends that will betray you when their wounds conflict with your future. Collect scrapbooks, movie tickets, theater programs, plan to buy houses next to each other and live there till you die. Then cry and scream and throw it all in the trash one night because you are not property, you are not a bandage, and you are no longer in need of a ceiling on your house. May you heal slowly, so that the ones who enter now do so on fertilized ground, not stumbling over corpses. May you pay too much for friendship so you realize that you don’t have to pay anything.
May you leave many things that are good enough, scandalizing the faithful, worrying the vigilant.
May you bounce checks but still pay rent.
May you do all manner of stupid, ill-advised things that bring you face to face with terror and the silence in your own center.
May your mistakes send you over cliffs and not into brackish ponds, so that your grief filled lungs get strong and fond of screaming.
May you do all your errands belatedly, but always make time for a friend.
And yes, there are consequences to all these mistakes. You will pay, you will burn, you will grieve, but you can hardly begin to believe the you that is in you, sitting quietly, waiting for the correctness to pass.