Managing the Missteps

I didn’t write yesterday.

I missed another day of writing my three pages or 750 words somewhere. I completely forgot, to be honest. I usually write in the morning: pop up out of bed, make my coffee, and then bang out my words. It’s usually an hour of writing for those 750 words, sometimes less, oftentimes more. But, since I have started my vacation, I woke up later than usual, and the day just got away from me. Oil change for the car, packing, dancing to loud music as I do pack, errands to run. By the time I knew it, it was 9:30 at night, my body was tired, and I just wanted to succumb to the siren song of my bed.

These things, they happen. I am honestly not that upset about it. It’s not that one day of sans-writing is going to prevent me from finishing my novel, writing this blog post, writing my morning pages. One misstep does not need to derail the whole expedition, correct? I wouldn’t turn around home after hiking the first 250 kilometers of the Camino de Santiago and then, when I take a day off to bask in the sun of Spain, call it quits and end the journey (I haven’t walked the pilgrimage yet, but this is high up on the bucket list).

I have come up with a new motto, and since it is me that is writing it, of course, there’s foul language in it:

Flow through the fuck-ups.

How many times have any of us allowed a missed day of exercise to derail our training regiment? Or had a smoke during a night of drinking after two years smoke-free (for those of us reformed smokers)? Or we’ve gained a couple pounds after losing a dozen? Why do we throw up our hands in exasperation and proclaim the end to doing something good for ourselves? I can’t be alone in this, can I? I can’t be unique in this human trait.

And, do you ever notice how we only give up on the positive things? We never think, “I’ve been drinking straight for three years and seventeen days. And then I go and ruin it by being sober for a day. Well, I fucked up. Might as well stay sober.” When it comes to bad things for us, it’s so easy just to keep going.

As a younger lady, I’d let every fuck-up just stop me in my tracks. It would be the end of whatever good thing I was trying to do. I needed a straight run of clean living to consider myself a success, to have accomplished my goal. But holy hell, I’m a human being. I am oh so fallible (oh lord, am I fallible and a complete fuck-up and have done so many things wrong in my life. I’m okay with it. And, if you are like me, you should be okay with not being perfect too).

No more though; no more allowing the mistakes to derail me. Flow through the fuck-ups. It’s my new mantra. I know myself well enough—I should hope so after forty years—to understand that I am, most certainly, going to fuck up along the way. My notebooks have helped me come to terms with this. Not only in the contents of what I write but in the actual notebooks themselves. There are missteps and wrong words and crossed out gibberish littered throughout those pages like New York City streets are after a raucous New Year’s Eve party. I leave them in there. I love them in there. I celebrate their presence; signposts of my journey through this life, head-nods to a more naive Nicole.

I leave for Copenhagen tonight. And over the next ten days, as I bike around Copenhagen, write in the Paludan Bogcafe (thanks to Eva for the suggestion!), view the places where the Berlin Wall once stood, stand under the Brandenburg Gate (can I stand under it?), and finish up with bouts of coffee, beer, and writing in Prague, I know I will miss days of writing. I know I will say something incorrectly. I know I just may be a stupid American (does the rest of the world blame all of us for the ridiculousness that this nation has become?). But I am going to flow through the fuck-ups.

Say it with me.

Flow through the fuck-ups.

Doing so makes us more resilient (my most favorite of traits of any human). We become stronger when we move through the mistakes, especially mistakes of our own making. We may not handle it with grace—I always picture myself, arms flailing, swearing up a storm, looking like a gutter girl; I will never be poised and perfect when stepping in doo-doo—but pushing through the mistake, moving through the conflict, flowing through the fuck-up is what matters in the end.