I was looking around the internet for a little inspiration today, internet, and I came across a list of questions from Operation Meditation that I thought were mildly interesting. I particularly liked No. 1. – Is it worse to fail at something or never attempt it in the first place?
When I was younger – say, high school freshman – I used to think life was a series of planned out, easy-to-follow steps that if followed correctly, would eventually led to riches and stardom. You go to high school, then college, then grad school, then you choose a job from the hordes of people falling over themselves to give you a job and then suddenly you’re a Victoria’s Secret model (my grip on reality when I was younger was loose at best). Shitty stuff like diabetes and divorce and identity theft happened to people who didn’t follow the steps. Life is like a baking recipe – you skip the baking soda and those cookies are going to suck.
But then my guidance counselor failed to send out my transcripts on time, so I missed the deadlines on a bunch of schools. My best friend was diagnosed with leukemia and, after a three year battle with it, passed away. I was (wrongly) diagnosed with diabetes. I failed my sculpture midterm and my art history midterm and my astronomy midterm right in a row (sorry, parents). I was cheated on by my boyfriend with a close friend of mine (it was complicated). I got declined from six different grad schools (six? Seven? Many).
At some point over the last six months or so, I finally realized that life is not a recipe at all. Life is playing darts, drunk and possibly blindfolded, and you think that you’re playing one game, but halfway through the other people playing decide to switch the rules around and no one bothers to tell you. Or maybe life is like being a mouse in a maze, but all the lights are off and you keep bashing your head into walls because you are a mouse and you are kind of stupid.
At any rate, you fail a lot in life.
Some of those failures are huge failures, or at least they seem huge at that moment. When I failed those midterms, I felt like the world was dropping out from under me. Now? Meh. Didn’t come up in the job interview, strangely enough.
Some of those failures are your fault, and some of them aren’t. Sometimes it seems like life fails you, or that life’s not fair. When your best friend dies when you’re 20, that’s not fucking fair. That’s life failing.
At any rate, you can’t predict failure, most of the time. Sure, if you’re entering a salsa competition without ever dancing before, that’s predictable, hilarious failure ready to happen. That’s one thing. But most of the time you can’t predict when something in your life is going to blow up and go horribly, horribly wrong.
So what, then? You sit down and have a cry and some chocolate, and then you keep pushing. No, I didn’t get into grad school, but I ended up with a fantastic job. Yes, my ex-boyfriend cheated on me in a horrific, dramatic manner, but I learned from it and waited and ended up with someone way better.
Yeah, life is hard. Life is mean, and you keep bumping into obstacles and reaching and trying and losing. But it’s also brilliant and beautiful, and reaching for that next rung on the monkey bars is always worth it, fall or not.
I’ve gotten into the habit of taking on more than one resolution each year, either so I’ve got a better chance of accomplishing one or (more likely) because I’m a masochist who enjoys failing at several different things all at once.
Here’s my list for 2013.
– Start a blog – check
– Fall back in love with my cat (explained in great detail here)
– Stop being a waste of space
– Overcome one of my many, many fears
– Move out of my parent’s house
– Sing an entire set of songs in front of people without forgetting any lyrics
– Wean myself off of taking stupidly long showers
– Memorize 10 digits of pi
– Watch Jurassic Park
– Learn how to make tuna noodle casserole
In past years, I have in fact completed three tasks off of my colossal checklists. The first was learn how to make fried rice, which is actually surprisingly easy to do if you manage to buy the right kind of rice, which, as it turns out, is the hard part. Extra points if you make it in a wok with Darth Vader light-saber chopsticks, which, I will stanchly maintain, is one of the best worst purchases I’ve ever made.
The second was the quintessential lose five pounds, but as I was so violently ill that spring that the doctors thought I was diabetic and I lost 30 pounds and I had to drop a course at school, that doesn’t really count.
The third, wear pants less, I’m pretty positive I put on my list as a joke, but I’m counting it anyways.