Pick at least three of the following words, and build a piece of writing around them. The form is up to you: poem, scene, flash-fic, essay, or general blog entry.
discovery, experience, failure, false, highway, positive, seek, sense, true
Failure. It’s a mournful word, I think, the diphthong a ghostly moan into the final syllable. The voice tends to fall at the end of the word, defeated. I’ve not had much experience with failure, for which I’m appropriately grateful. Although, I believe it’s because I seek safety, and not because I’m particularly gifted or even lucky. I’m not a risk taker, in any sense of the word, and the highway of my life is pretty straight and narrow.
Keats is certainly not alone in the sentiments he expresses about the positive nature of failure. Everyone from Jesus Christ to Oprah can quote chapter and verse about discovering new opportunities in the face of defeat. I’ve observed this from time to time, seen people make lemonade from lemons and rebuild their lives after near destruction. The human spirit seems indelible, and sometimes the greater the hardship, the more magnificent the rebirth. Like the phoenix, we rise from the ashes in golden glory.
I’m not sure I’m one of those people, and I often wonder if I would have the guts to dig myself out of a huge emotional or financial hole, to fight a deadly disease, to survive the loss of my husband or child. When my young friend Jeff committed suicide two years ago, I looked at his mother and thought, if that were me, I’d crawl into a hole and never come out.
But most likely I wouldn’t do that, I’d continue on somehow, diminished in many ways but stronger for having survived something so horrific. There’s a saying I particularly like, and you’ve probably heard it too…the one that goes, “a woman is like a teabag – she gets stronger when you put her in hot water.”
I know it takes patience to survive failure, to wait for things to turn around when they’ve gone wrong. It also takes forgiveness, sometimes of other people who have in some way played a part in your failure, sometime forgivness of yourself, when all your best intentions and efforts still go awry.
Mostly, it takes time for perspective to set in, and for possibility to present itself to you.
Most likely I’ll someday have to discover what I’m really made of, for no one goes through life completely free of failure of one sort or another. I hope when the time comes that I’ll be gifted with the good sense to create something positive from the experience, “to seek after what is true” and be able to “avoid the error” in the future.
~for Cafe Writing