Once upon a time, we lived in a world where there was no thinking about thinking. There was little time or place for the ‘meta’ – the knowing how you know things, the knowing of yourself, your desires, your quirks, your passions.
Our ancestors – and many people around the world today who aren’t living in our circumstances – didn’t have this luxury.
With this greater understanding of ourselves, comes a burden. We think that if we know ourselves, or if we at least inspect our innermost vulnerabilities, that we should be able to predict our actions, or control them.
We often can’t.
We try and fail. We focus on our failure. We call it the deciding factor. We fail or we don’t, as if these two are mutually exclusive.
At that point, we must realize that there is much joy to be found in the trying.
What am I talking about, anyway?
I am talking about my very own experiences. A former scholar, a photographer, a writer. I am talking about the many identities I wear, the few I’ve shucked along the way. I’ve learned so much from my failures.
Imagine for a second you are a strong and able puller of a plow. You comb the field with your plow, or even the beach, tirelessly, but your plow has a magical ability.
Your plow discards that which is not useful and gathers only the precious bits that are.
It is a magnet for the things you treasure. You are like Wall-E, collecting bits of forgotten or unwanted things you find, some real treasures and some – only treasures in your mind.
Your plow is a magnet for those things.
Those things are what make you who you are. They are the bits in life that bring you joy and give it meaning.
They are the faces you know and love. The kind words they use.
They are a favourite song. The whole world might hate that song, but you don’t.
They are a tattered book that you go back to, even though you tend not to re-read others.
They are a scent memory, even a confusing one, from childhood. A fragrance you cannot pinpoint that recalls a feeling you cannot put into words.
They are the sudden burst of hope you feel spontaneously, on a damp and overcast day.
The precious bits that make you who you are… they just keep growing.
As you live your life, they get more plentiful. I think it’s wisdom.
What does this have to do with failure?
Well, failure is nothing. It really is. Failure is a large boulder in the field you plow. A tall grassy dune in the beach. It is something that might change your course, or require a creative spark to overcome it.
Failure does not unhitch your plow.
Nor does it empty your saddlebags of precious life joys you’ve stuffed inside. It does not take away the joys you have, nor the joys you remember having had.
So you see, failure is nothing.
What’s more: you already have everything in your possessions to overcome it.
And now it’s spring!
With this burst of warm weather, fittingly on the first day of spring, I feel new inspiration.
In my everyday life, I am currently waiting on two babies to be born (because their families have invited me to photograph their journeys into parenthood). I am organizing my taxes, something I find quite enjoyable.
I am looking forward to a family vacation – a much-deserved one, and a huge splurge.
I am looking forward to a day with the kids tomorrow.
I am spending time outside while feeding our little lamb, and appreciating how much tranquility and wonder there is in the very farm-life that often seems a burden.
These are my things.
What are your things?