Friday, June 26, 2009

I Have Failed Again

I offer up this post as a sacrifice to the writing gods to make up for yesterday's missing post.

So I realized about ten minutes ago when I was cutting Bryan's hair that I forgot to write yesterday. I'm not sure why I thought about it then, but so it goes. In any case, both times now when I have forgotten and realized my failure I have been tempted to quit all together and simply give up on my goal, convinced that I've already proven myself incapable. And that has gotten me thinking about failure.

Failure is such a huge part of this mortal life. I mean, think about all of the failures we experience just in the process of learning to walk! But I'm glad that I didn't quit trying to learn how to walk the first or second or one hundred and twelfth time I fell down. In fact, I'm really, really glad I didn't give up on trying to walk. That's a skill I appreciate having every day of my life. And here's another thing about it: nobody expected me to give up on learning to walk when I was a baby and I kept on tumbling over. They just smiled and helped me up and clapped excitedly when I did get it right.

I wish I would think of other people's failures more in that light instead of jumping into judgments like I often do. I know it's terrible of me, but sometimes I'll see someone attempt a goal and I'll think, "They can't do it," and then somehow I feel a certain sense of self-pride if they do fail after all. I offer up this mean side of myself as an example of what not to do because I think, truly, we ought to look at failure as a building block rather than a reason to quit. So, please, don't be like me (unless you're learning how to walk).

Considering all this, I have decided to get back on the metaphorical horse and keep on going with my goal to write every day. My mother always taught me that "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing good enough." As I've told that to various people over the years I've gotten various reactions. Most of my perfectionist friends were appalled by this notion (and didn't seem to notice that my "good enough" book report posters were earning me the same high grades as their perfectionist ones that they spent far too much time working on and then redoing after they wrote something slightly crooked). I think people misunderstand this idea as meaning that you shouldn't do your best work or try your best. That's not what it means. What it means is that you should do your best and not stress out about every tiny little failure. If it's not going to matter to the teacher that one word is slightly crooked on your poster then leave it and move on with life so you can get to other more important things. Or, put another way, don't print the entire thing off in super duper laser jet color when regular black and white is going to get the job done. I've run away with myself a little, but the point I was trying to make in bringing up this idea of doing things good enough is that we wear ourselves out by expecting perfection from the very imperfect selves that we are. Perfection is our ultimate goal, of course, but let's not kid ourselves into thinking that we're expected to attain it before we die. If we could, there certainly wouldn't be much need for a Savior. (For more thoughts on this I would direct you to Stephen E. Robinson's book Believing Christ.)

And so, I ackowledge my need for a billion second chances as I keep trying to get things right. I hope you'll just smile when I fall down (again and again) and focus on the things I do happen to do right.


  1. Yay! I haven't chosen to follow this blog yet, but I feel like I might as well because I checked like 10 times just to see your post for this day. I like reading your writing and I think you are doing great with your goal. Keep it up for me if not for any other reason. ;)