Posted in Lore

And This Too Shall Pass

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Everything and everyone are temporary.  Some things are temporary longer, but never permanent.  The oldest thing you can think of will someday be as gone and forgotten as tomorrow’s Top 40.  Is this too deep for a Sunday morning?  I apologize.  I’m in a melancholy mood.

How, you ask, is this woebegone thinking going to dig me out of the doldrums?  When I mention my thoughts on this out loud, at least one person will eventually tell me I’m depressing.  I understand.  Life is art.  Your perspective depends on where you are standing.   Lack of permanence is comforting or unnerving depending on your perspective.

Abraham Lincoln, in an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, once said,

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Sometimes we control how long something will be temporary.  We can take action; re-cut a bad haircut, remove a tattoo.  We can take a break or even quit a job or relationship.  I prefer not to stay in an unacceptable situation if it shows no sign of change.  I left an employer over a decade ago, because I needed different hours.  I asked if there was any way to change my shift, and they said no.  It was a fine place to work, but it just didn’t fit my family needs.  Several people mentioned how they should leave too, for various reasons, but mostly because they hated it there.

Upon handing in my two-week notice, a couple of managers approached me.  They wanted me to stay.  They would have offered me different hours.  They would have trained me in different areas.  They really had high hopes for me.  Would I consider staying?  “Sorry,” I said.  “I already have another job.”  Perhaps if they had known I was so very temporary, they have valued me more from the onset.

When I go back to that place, I still see a couple of those people who said they wanted to leave.  If you wait for change to fall in your lap, you might have to wait a long time.  After a while you forget you have a choice.  Time flies when you’re having fun, but disappears forever when you’re not.

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When things are really bad, I mean really bad, caring friends will ask, “Are you okay?”  To which I reply, “I’m fine.”  When they ask if I’m sure, I say, “What else am I going to be?”  I suppose the obvious answer to that is “not fine.”  But as long as I’m conscious and breathing, I make the choice to be fine.  The rest is temporary.

In my car this morning, Alanis Morissette was singing through the stereo.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

She sings of the yin and yang of life.  The fact that I gravitate toward the yang when the yin of life weighs me down is a healthy thing.  I write.  I walk.  I get out of the house.  I look for beauty in the world.  I find beauty within myself.  I know both light and dark are temporary, and find delight and grief in their brevity.

So, yeah.  I’m a little introspective and quiet this morning.  And a little melancholy.

And this too shall pass.

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

Failure is Underrated

failureWatching an NFL advertisement, I heard the phrase “Failure is not an option.”

Um . . . yes . . . it is.  Failure is always an option, and it gets a bad rap.

The fear of failure is what drives us to do the very best we can.  It is the reason we keep getting up after having fallen.  Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  This is not completely true, as failure to pack your parachute could certainly be fatal, but you get the idea.  Winston was just trying to tell us, “Hey, failing isn’t going to kill you.  Suck it up.”

Thomas Edison also spoke of his lack of success.  “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.”  Can you imagine how much greater success tasted to him after having tried so many times?  Granted, Mr. Edison had more stamina for failure than most of us.

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
Truman Capote

You know, sometimes it’s just time to call it quits.  There is nothing more liberating, after having given it your damnedest, than to release yourself to failure.  It frees you to find something in which you excel.  It gives others the opportunity to succeed.  It allows a great idea a better chance.

“Life is full of screwups. You’re supposed to fail sometimes. It’s a required part of the human existance.”
Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride

Once you have accepted defeat, it is important to own it.  John Burrough said that a man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.  John was saying it’s time to put on your big girl panties and take it like a man . . . an odd man wearing big girl panties.

Be content in your failure.  Don’t forget the mistakes you have made, lest you make them again.  Start anew as the stronger person you have become.

And if you find your big girl panties just aren’t fitting yet, you can always take the advice of Steven Wright:

“If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.”