On failure

There are 41 days left until the end of the year, and although this is more than enough time to accomplish some of the things I set out to do by then, I still feel the pressure. The last time I wrote I was in a new-found state of relaxation and hope, as a huge weight had been lifted off of me. A few months later, and this weight is back on, if only for a limited time. What I am left with is (once again) a million things to do and no idea which one to pick up first. This goal I set for myself reminds me of my earlier post on achievement, which unsurprisingly leads me to the definition of the concept of failure and its eerie connection to inadequacy or the inability to accomplish something. 

The popular belief is that whenever we ‘fall’ we should pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again (as Krall sings in a delightful tune). This is indeed good thinking, for if we allow every little ‘fall’ to keep us down, we would never get anything done. Ever. But my question is, when do we draw the line and call it quits? Some will say, NEVER! On the other hand, the counter-argument could be that part of this process being successful means to know when to stop. But would ‘retiring’ mean to accept defeat and embrace the sad realization that you failed? And if so, how many failed attempts will it take before we are ready to do that?

I honestly have no idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I have not admitted defeat; in fact, I’m not even close. But the subjectivity of such things and the difficulty of determining whether I just need to try harder or stop altogether is starting to get to me. To this, someone could easily accuse me of wanting the easy way out; that is, someone to tell me: OK you can put it to rest now, you’re done. It’s true. It is the easy way out, but why does everything have to be so difficult? And don’t give me the “everything worth having is hard  to get/needs work/is not free” speech. I’m neither stupid nor naive. I know how the world works… I just wish (sometimes) that it worked a little differently. 

Even if we were, however, to imagine a different kind of world, one in which things were more black and white, who would we call upon to make such decisions and at what point would we question their ability to do so? A friend would be too biased, a stranger too unreliable, an expert too close-minded, and so it goes. Which brings us back to our current predicament. No one can tell you what you can and cannot do, and you are the only person who can either push yourself forward, or build a wall around you and enclose yourself within it. 

What we want to be is often too far away from what we can be, and even further away from what we will be, unless we find the strength, patience, courage, and resilience to give it our best shot, even if it means coming out of it filled with dirt and bruises. 

The time to heal will eventually be found, but the time wasted (in order to try again) will not. 


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