Every day, I'm confronted with something I've failed at. My days are filled with mistakes and failures of varying degrees. Some days it's something small, like failing to remember to put the water bottles out for the water delivery truck on Wednesday. Some days it's something big, like failing to read the e-mail from kiddo's teacher reminding me that today is "Crazy Hair Day" at school. And some days it's something monumental, like failing at my job.
But one thing I've learned from failure is that 9 times out of 10 it teaches me something. I like to believe I've actually grown from my failures, that I've become a little bit better at some things. It might be that I've only become more accomplished at failure itself, but I'll take any success I can get. Surely my failures have made me somewhat smarter than I once was?
For example, I once ran freely through my mom's yard wearing jelly shoes. We had a huge Husky/German Shepard mix back then. I failed to realize there was a chance I would collide with one of the doggy land mines littering the yard. I realized my mistake as soon as the poo started seeping through the gaps in my jelly shoe. I've learned not to run through open fields wearing jelly shoes.
I once rubbed my eyes after basting ribs in hot sauce with my bare hands. I failed to heed the warning label that said "Avoid contact with eyes. If product comes into contact with eyes, immediately flush liberally with fresh water." Lesson in self-macing quickly learned. Tabasco BURNS!
I failed to wait until AFTER pulling a shirt over my head to apply lipstick ; I learned that you can remove a lipstick stain with hairspray.
I failed at freely acknowledging a mistake; I've learned that you can avoid a lot of pain with a sincere "sorry".
I failed at admitting that I didn't know what the hell someone was talking about; I've learned that you can avoid a lot of frustration by just admitting that you don't have all the answers.
I failed at telling a lot of people exactly how I felt; I've learned that when you stop pretending, life becomes a lot simpler.
There are always exceptions; e.g. I repeatedly fail to get to work on time. That is the 1 time out of 10 that I just can't seem to learn from. I figure I more than make up for it on the one hand, staying late on the job more than my turn. However, this usually perpetuates the cycle of failure, with me arriving consistently three minutes behind the school bell most every day as I rush for after-school pickup. On good days I convince myself that one could consider my tardiness a success if measured in terms of consistency.
Then there are other failures, bigger failures, monumental failures, that make me rethink the implications of my actions on my life and that of others.
Yesterday I failed at sunscreen protocol. Up until then, I could boast almost eight years of immaculate protection of kiddo's pearly-white skin in the ME. I started off well, immersed Kiddo in spf 50 as is custom. But then I let her swim and play in the desert sun for just a little too long without re-applying. Her red shoulders and the pink hair part on her skull were the first indication that I had failed. Her desperate attempt to rouse us at 1:00 a.m. by vomiting profusely over Smilin' Vic and I and our bedding was the second sign. Her dry sunstroke heaves throughout the early morning hours lent credence to the epic proportions of my failure to protect this amazing little translucent being. (I'm happy to report she's back to running about care-free as I type this post.) I consider this a MONUMENTAL failure. I am supposed to keep her safe. Safe from the bad guys, safe from harm, safe from the elements. Lesson learned: Failing my child is not an option.
Recently, I admitted to failing at my job. This hasn't been my biggest failure ever, but it's been a really hard one to admit to. Me, who has always prided myself on my ability to 'get the job done'. But I finally found a job I just wasn't willing to invest any more of me into. So I quit. In case I forget how massive a failure this one is, kiddo has been running around telling everyone for the last few weeks "My Maman quit her job!' Funny thing is, I feel ok about it. Lesson learned: There is sometimes victory in failure.
Years ago, I failed at marriage. This one nearly killed me. Slowly. The failure dragged on for years, and it hurt - not only me, but many around me. But then I succeeded at divorce. Life has a way of throwing curve balls like that. Lesson learned: Sometimes success doesn't look quite like we expected it to.
For over six years, I have been failing my family back home. As an expat, I just don't think there's any way around it. I am not there to listen to them, to help them, to wrap my arms around them, to comfort them when they most need it. Lesson learned: Sometimes failure is the only option ... and it sucks.
Yup, every day I fail me a little. But as they say in these parts, "What to do, yannih?" I take the good with the bad and move on, and hopefully a little growth will come of it. Hopefully the multitude of failures accumulated over the years will help define a successful lifetime.
May we all fail a little so that we may grow a little, and ultimately emerge triumphant.