Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The rewards of failure

I am a very talented person. Intelligent, articulate, polite but without pretension, and particular without undue severity. It is true that, at times, these traits lay idle, or are even appropriated in lesser or even dubious causes. Yet even so, I remain a man with vast and disparate capabilities. Up until now, the primary use of my talents has been in the conservation of personal energy. I have honed the art of cutting corners to such an extent that my endeavors are ultimately, and invariably, doughnut shaped.

The reasons for this are several; probably some of it is good old fashioned sloth. To a certain extent, I like the idea that I can succeed with ease where others manage only through the expenditure of great effort and the assumption of much care. Of course, it is difficult to evade the accusation that a fear of failure, or success, or in one of psychologies more interesting and tormenting little vices, both, may lurk about.

At any rate, and for whatever reason, I had yet to encounter any enterprise in which I felt the need or the desire to exhaust every eventuality (how's that for aliteration!). That is no longer true, and if the outcome is in some sense disappointing, the end results have proven unexpectedly encouraging.

It was something of a surprise to find how interested I'd become in a successful resolution, and indeed how quickly the aspiration took hold. But having inspired my ambition, I became dedicated to achieving my goal in a way that I'd never really experienced before. I tried my best. I employed all my talents, pursued every opportunity, and spared no efforts. And in the end I fell on my face.

I mean, I didn't just fail. I blew it by a long shot. If it was a race, my shoe laces were tied together and I never got off the starting blocks. In a different situation, I think the whole experience could have been frustrating or humiliating, or even soul crushing. But as is, I find already I look back on it with a kind of (perhaps morbid) amusement.

For the first time I actually tried my best, and it wasn't anywhere near good enough. And yet, everything was still in place. The sky didn't fall, the sun rose the next day. It is unexpectedly liberating, like when you run as fast as you can for as long as you can. Then when exhaustion forces you to stop, you look back and see how far you managed to go, and you realize that in the future, you might get further yet.

It goes without saying that nobody changes over night. But I count this experience as a positive one. Of course the pessimist in me is not surprised that my first genuine effort would have been expended in a hopeless exercise, but I am not discourged. I may try again sometime, or if not, I might yet employ the same dedication to a new task. After all, now that I've fallen flat on my face, I know it hurts a bit, but it won't kill you.


N said...

I think there were aspects of what you set out to do that were successful, even though the end result you were shooting for may not have been. If the underlying circumstances and timing had been different I feel that you would have been successful for all your efforts. As for the current resolution, I think you sabotaged yourself a bit, but ultimately the deck was stacked against you.

LeperColony said...

An objective observer would probably have to admit that your rendition of events is somewhat generous. But either way it doesn't really matter, as my ambition is indifferent to partial success. Fortunately, nobody knows what the future holds, and I prefer to think of the endeavor as "suspended" rather than "resolved."

N said...

Do you still think it was a hopeless exercise?

LeperColony said...

Whether it was or not remains to be seen. It is, however, now evident that it was at all stages a pointless one.