My favorite failure?

The pouches that I made lay scattered on the fireplace hearth beside me, their ultimate purpose still undetermined. It could be that the entire reason for their existence is to provide an entry into my writing today – how noble.

I was reading a book with Darin yesterday morning. It asks a series of questions to a variety of successful people and one of them asks about failure, what failure have you had that has ultimately led to success and I realized that my biggest failure hasn’t led me to a success. My most dramatic face plant has not done anything to contribute to my ultimate happiness. I don’t think I’ve learned anything from it.

That gave me pause. I had a quick vision: what if I were to finally all these years later, actually grow from that painful experience in my 20s? Would that be the turnaround that I have needed to finally get to share my gift with the world? Lift my chin and be proud of myself, flaws and chinks and all? It was a flash of a vision and it was a new vision, something I had never thought of before.

How does one recover from a stupid failure decades after it happens? More than 30 years ago I gave up on design school. Petulant, impulsive, shame-ridden, I walked away in my final semester, why did I do that? Because after a successful first year I expected to be loved the same way in my second year. My designs were applauded the first year and sent back to the drawing board the second and I couldn’t take it. I left, when I was so close to making it. I left, with a large student loan debt and a stone of regret that I couldn’t even identify until years later. What is the matter with me?

I wish I had some cheeky little story about how stupid I was but how it all turned out for the best and now I am the CEO of the most innovative new company or the author of 10 New York Times bestselling novels. But I don’t.

And I wonder, how many out there are like me? How many of us never recovered or grew from our biggest failure? Sure, I’m not in prison or on the street. I look fairly normal from the outside to most. I’ve been married for quite a while especially by today’s standards, I have raised five kids and none of them died yet. Although one did almost die.


The point is that I’m not a complete loser but I’m not the success that I wanted to be and I can’t be the only one walking around wondering what if. What if my parents hadn’t saddled me with this dysfunction or maybe I was just born this way, maybe it’s not their fault because would I want to be blamed for my kids shortcomings – but my parents did crash and burn, my mom did abandon me, my dad did leave us so there’s that, maybe I am not my fault.

And then you get to a certain age and you realize that “someday” probably isn’t coming and you don’t have that to hold onto anymore while you check Facebook compulsively.

Can I tell you how much time I have lost on Facebook?

I realize it has been 12 years now that I’ve given a portion of my day every day to this monster. What would it have been before? Let’s not blame Facebook too much – there used to be soap operas and sit-coms. It’s easy to stop watching TV when you have the internet to make you think you’re edging toward creativity.

When I was 25 I strung a clothesline across my living room and clipped a big circle of fine black wool crepe to it. I took thousands of shiny sequin palettes and sewed them onto the wool one by one, my thread and sewing needle in my hand, All My Children on the TV on the other side of the room. I delighted in my creation and the creating of it and I didn’t need to spend an hour scrolling through other people’s ideas to get to it.

Leave a Reply