Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Would You Attempt to Do if You Knew You Could Not Fail?

One of these days, I am going to look up the astrology of this year (Tarot reader = yes. Astrologer = no.) and figure out why it has been systematically kicking my behind. I feel like I'm getting completely re-organized from the inside-out, and as a person who's already done that a time or two over the last 30 years (heck, over the last decade!) I would kindly like to ask the universe to knock it the heck off!

When I headed off to college in the last waning months of the year 2000 (little suspecting what a terrible, terrible choice in colleges I had made), my mother gave me a very solid, rectangular, metal paperweight engraved with the saying, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

My mother and I both thought the answer was obvious. She said, "Everything!"

I said, "Nothing."

Which, to this day, perplexes my mother. I understood her answer - knowing you could always succeed, what wouldn't you try? Trapeze artist, hula dancer, astronaut, hot air balloon guide. Guaranteed success, why not?

I, on the other hand, could not imagine what was to be gained without risk. If I knew everything I undertook was going to be successful, why expend the effort? Knowing the outcome robs life of its mystery and guaranteed success removes that refinement that only comes from failure.

By far the most worthwhile undertakings of my life have had in them the most risk. Tarot was a risk of faith. Guatemala was a risk of safety. Writing was a risk of security. The Center was a risk of community. Spain was a risk of sanity. Finance was a risk of purpose. I have learned more in attempting these than simple success could give me.

I have been blessed with the ability to succeed at many things, but not at everything, and I have to say I'm rather grateful for that. Without failure, why would we strive? Without risk, how would we value gain?

Here's an exercise. Draw a card with the intent of exploring how failure has enriched your life. It can be a specific failure or failure in general. You may just find what you see as failure was simply risk taken in pursuit of greater gain.

Keep striving, my friends!

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