Most people like to post on the Internet about their successes. I want to talk about failure. I can assure you, I am fully qualified to talk about failure. I’m an expert with thirty years of experience.
You see, the past few months I have been thinking pretty hard about where I am in my life, especially in relation to the dreams and aspirations I had as a teenager. I’m forty six years old now. Thirty years ago, I was sixteen, and I had big ambitions. I wanted to publish books. I wanted to make money in real estate. I wanted to find love.
So thirty years on, how am I doing? Two failed marriages, with a handful of failed relationships that never got that far. Finding love? FAIL. Two real estate purchases, one that ended in foreclosure, the other is worth less now than when I bought it, yet I owe more than I paid for it. Making money in real estate? FAIL. Number of books published: zero. Number of books written to completion: zero. Number of failed attempts: [I’ve lost count.] So, publishing books? FAIL.
You might be thinking, dude (or some equivalent form of casual address), you’ve been failing to achieve your childhood dreams for thirty years? Don’t you find that, you know, kind of depressing?
Frankly? Yes. Sometimes I do. Sometimes it crushes me under the weight of my failure so hard that I lie in bed and cry myself to sleep. But, just as frankly, that’s a fairly rare occurrence. You know what I do most days?
I keep trying.
You ever play Hacky Sack? It’s this game, or activity really, with this little bean bag, a little bigger than a golf ball. You’re supposed to kick the bag up in the air. When it comes down, you try to kick it again to keep it in the air. That’s basically it.
I figured out, a long time ago, that life is a game of hacky sack.
First off, playing it alone is really hard, and not much fun. Two people can do alright, but the game doesn’t get really fun until you have four or five people in a circle playing together.
The object is to keep the sack in the air, but you begin the game knowing that you are doomed to failure. You know, with compete certainty, that the little bag is going to hit the ground. When it does? You pick it up and start again.
“Success,” if there is any in the game, comes when every player in the circle gets in a kick before the sack hits the ground. But, there isn’t any score keeping. There’s no competition. There’s no way to win.
The object of the game is just to keep kicking.
So I still hit that keyboard every day, adding words (currently 47,547 of a target 80,000). Some days, all I can do is stare at the screen. Some days, I’m so swamped I can’t even look at the computer. Tomorrow, I will try to add 1,000 words.
I’m still hammering away at the house, in the literal sense as well as the figurative, working to turn it into something that people would pay money to live in. Most days it feels like the building is out to get me. More than once it has injured me physically. This weekend I’ll be repairing the overhead lights in the den. Again.
Love? I still believe in it. I still have hope of having a love all my own one day. Until then, I have a couple of very close friends, you know, not the type who will help you move, but the type who will help you move a dead body. And I have far more friends of the help you move type, with whom I share mutual respect and the occasional beverage, than I ever expected to. Tomorrow, I’m having drinks with a bunch of them. And who knows what happens next?
Maybe I never actually make money on that house. Maybe that book never quite makes it (but I think it will). Maybe that perfect someone will simply never be mine.
But I’m still here. And I’m just going to keep kicking. Because that is the point of life.