Failure

I’ll bet a dozen red roses that most bloggers hit a wall sooner or later and realize they aren’t posting as often as they’d like.  I am hitting that wall.  It gives me great comfort to imagine I’m not alone.

Tonight I promised myself I would finally complete a post, but I wandered into Facebook for a tiny visit and came out on the other side late for dinner.  Fail!  How does this happen?  (Don’t answer that.)  Now I’ve eaten dinner and set up shop here at computer central, aka my kitchen, to post something.  Anything.

I thought I might write about failure, since I’m experiencing it.  Volumes have been written on failure’s intrinsic value as a teacher of lessons great and small.  I am currently in the land of small lessons, mostly about over committing and not being organized, so I have nothing remarkably new to say on the subject. 

My only insight is this:  when your goal is perfection, you always fail. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.  I take two lessons from this insight.  One, I should give up on perfection in most things, because they don’t require it.  Two, I should strive for perfection in a few areas, and live with failure.

Right now I am pursuing so many interests, I’m guaranteed to fail (by some standard) at most of them.  I wrote about wanting to dance, and I haven’t been to a dance class since.  I planned to spend my month between shows getting the house organized, and it’s as chaotic as ever.  I hoped to get a head-start on my lines for Hamlet, but all I’ve memorized is “To be or not to be,” and if you’ve even heard of the play you know that is not one of Gertrude’s lines.

So.  No perfection in those pursuits, nor in many others these days (e.g. regularly scheduled blog posts).  But the pursuits are delightful in themselves, so it doesn’t matter. 

What about the few things that do matter, where perfection is the goal?  A virtuoso performance, for instance, or a stunning photograph?  Paradoxically, these are the pursuits in which I must be entirely willing to fail, and fail big.  If I’m not striving for perfection, I can content myself with safe choices and easy tricks.  I can do less than the art calls for, and that would be the worst failure of all. 

So there you have it:  the paradox of perfectionism and the inevitability of failure.  I can’t get away from either one, and I think I’ve decided not to try. For better or for worse, I’m going to keep sending my imperfect thoughts into the blogosphere.  See you there.

6 thoughts on “Failure

  1. Carolyn, I’ve known you for a long time, and I can say with perfect sincerity that what is failure by your standards is success by most other people’s. Do what you love, love what you do – the rest is just noise.

  2. To me, you are perfection on stage, at least, and from having met your daughter, as a mom. But going for perfect never works. The older I get the more I think it is through relaxing and getting our mind out of the way that the good stuff (close to perfect) has a chance to get through. I so hear you on this struggle! I am very overdue on blogging for the farm and have three great posts in my head that just need to be typed up. Maybe by the end of the day…

  3. Thanks, friend. I agree — it’s the mind that gets in the way: all the thoughts that say “not good enough.” I just have to assume that most of what gets done really is good enough, and focus on what really matters. Like friendship.

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