Back in November 2014, I purchased a book entitled “R is for Ricochet” from a second-hand bookstore. I bought this book with the intention of using it for blackout poetry, the process of selecting certain words on a page and “blacking-out” the rest to create a new phrases  or sentences.

Photo credit: Rachel Toalson
Photo Credit: Rachel Toalson

I opened the book to a random page and started reading. As I was reading, I found myself boxing the words “mistakes” and “story.” Intrigued, I tried to make this into an actual sentence. I eventually found the missing words and created the sentence: “The mistakes are now a story.”

This sentence spoke to me for a multitude of reasons.

First, I tend to be very self-critical which often results in a lot of anxiety. I have recently been reminiscing about my life over the past few years. Re-living certain events and how my past decisions still impact me today. However, my train of thought always stops at the mistakes I’ve made, passing over the positive experiences.

I began to focus on things I’ve said that I shouldn’t, things I didn’t say that I should have, relationships I’ve held onto in which I should have let go and vice versa. I began to pay very little attention to the positives. This negativity began to become so overbearing, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else because I was so consumed with the past instead of living in the present, which is not how I try to live my life.

It dawned on me that I can’t be the only person who experiences this–at least I hope I’m not the only one. So I began to think about how much of my own personal time I’ve spent criticizing myself and getting upset over things of the past.

I am generally a positive person who tends to greet life with a smile and open arms. However, when you become consumed by the things you can’t change, that starts to affect your attitude towards not only yourself, but the people and the world surrounding you. It became a struggle to be as positive as I once was; requiring much more effort to look past the little things that used to be no problem at all.

One Friday, I was sitting in my dorm room, messing around on my guitar, when I suddenly remembered that book I bought three months prior and the sentence I had created. I opened the book and saw the sentence.

The mistakes are now a story.”

Now, this isn’t going to be the part of the story when I say that, “all of a sudden I felt calm, and a wave of peace rushed over me.”

No.

I still felt the same level of anxiety I had been feeling for the past couple of years. One sentence didn’t resolve every issue I’ve ever had, but it did help me gain perspective.

I felt the need to do more with this sentence rather than just leave it on a piece of paper.

So I took a couple magazines and newspapers, scissors, glue and created the photo below.

photo by Rachel Toalson
Photo Credit: Rachel Toalson

This mini art project helped me take a moment to breathe and come closer to peace with the fact that as a human, I have made, and will continue to make, mistakes. That is a factor of life that we cannot escape.

Like I’ve said before, one sentence didn’t resolve every issue, and it’s not going to.

It didn’t “cure” my anxiety, but it did help me see the beauty in that every single mistake I have ever made has contributed to the person I am today.

If I were given the opportunity to go back and change those mistakes, I wouldn’t.

Photo Credit: Rachel Toalson
Photo Credit: Rachel Toalson