In praise of the power of Failure

Posted: June 13, 2012 in Dark Phase, Random Writings
Tags: , , ,

Disappointment (who perhaps looks a little like Mr. Howell from Gilligan’s Island)

One of the hardest things to do is to sit with your own disappointment; sit quietly with it in a room, no running or reaching for the phone to call for help, no opening a bottle of something to drown it. Disappointment can be huge, and yet still drowns neatly in a small bottle of the right stuff. Funny how that works. The challenge is to just sit with it, look it in its colorless eyes and wait until it gets bored. Eventually it shrugs and says “what did you expect?” before it finally lopes off to some other non-event.

But I can’t do it. I can’t wait out disappointment like that. If it looks like disappointment is on the way, anyone’s disappointment, I will be the first to cast an anxious eye to the horizon and scream, “Distract, distract, distract!” And  it must have been that time when I could not distract myself from looming disappointment, that I discovered the power of failure.

Failure can be a beautiful thing. It builds no expectations, and with no expectations there can be no disappointment. The twisted twin of: “Do or do not. There is no try,” there is only “try” in my power of failure. And I try everything – film making, sword fighting, singing in front of an audience, creative writing groups, so many endeavors that make others pause and worry, “What if I’m no good?” I simply mutter my negative affirmation “I’m going to suck. Oh well,” and barrel onward.
Sometimes I do stop and ask, “Where has this gotten me?” Because obviously approaching everything with the understanding that you will fail doesn’t leave much room to strive towards improvement. I suppose the answer is nowhere, but it’s an interesting nowhere. And I’m rarely if ever defeated, which makes me something of an alpha loser.

Sadly though, any expectation, even an expectation of failure, will lead you back to disappointment. Witness the moment a peer in one of my activities turned to me and said, “You know, you’re not as bad as you think you are.” It was intended as encouragement, but it meant that I had failed at failing.  And what do I do with that?

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Comments
  1. Oh Paula…I love this: “I simply mutter my negative affirmation “I’m going to suck. Oh well,” and barrel onward.” That is so YOU, that it quite literally made me laugh out loud, for reals. This is one of my favorite things about you. Your compulsion and propulsion toward exploring all of the things which excite and interest you. And, I’m sorry to say you have, indeed, failed at failing in quite a few ways…like hmm…..creating/playing/singing on a kick ass CD, playing all kinds of cool gigs all over SF, having great kids and being a great Mom, writing a funny and well written blog, and many more. But, for the sake of keeping you in “try” mode, just pretend I whispered that last part really quietly in your dreams, and you didn’t really hear it, and keep on lowballing those expectations! Love, Suzette

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