I’ve been reading Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh. I came across the most lovely quote. Mathematician Goro Shimura was admiring his partner Yutaka Taniyama. Here’s what he said:

"He (Taniyama) was gited with the special capability of making many mistakes, mostly in the right direction. I envied him for this and tried in vain to imitate him, but found it quite difficult to make good mistakes."

Ahhhh….the ability to make good mistakes.

I remember several years ago when Leah was in gymnastics, and–I don’t know why–she suddenly decided to run, really run, down the vault runway on her attempt. Her coach had been talking to her about this all year, but for whatever reason, this was the day.

Well, she was set up too close to the vault for a fast run. So she went across the vault with such power she went sliding belly-first on the tall mat on the other side. Her legs flew up behind her over her back so far she could see her toes. She was literally folded in half backwards. We were at the chiropracter the next day. Surprisingly, her back was spasming–Gee, I wonder why?

Good mistake?

Yep! (Since it didn’t involve any injury worse than back spasms.)

The next gym practice, the coach kept moving her farther and farther down the vault runway as she kept up the speed. She got top scores in vault the rest of the season. She learned a need for speed that has carried her into cross-country and track. She learned the strength of her own power and her own abilities when she puts out full effort…which has translated into her writing this last homeschool year.

I guess when you’re busy making mistakes instead of being paralyzed by perfectionism, any mistake is a good mistake.

Whether it’s gymnastics, math, or…writing a novel.

That last is for myself! Fill in your own blank, and go make a mistake!