The Necessity of Failure

If you haven't noticed, in spite of what some folks would like to believe, we are not all the same.

Image: A steel bar breaks under extreme force.

We are not all the same height. We are not all the same build. We have different smiles, different hair, different tastes.

We do not all make the same first impression. We do not share the same karma, the same chi, the same id.

Many things shape us, define us. Our DNA encodes many attributes into our flesh and blood. The history of our family encodes many characteristics of the environment into which we are thrust at birth.

We learn a method of interacting with our world first from our mother, then from the others with whom we come into contact. The lessons are soothing and gratifying, or they are shocking and horrifying, or something in between. Trust and distrust, good and evil, us and them. We learn about these things early. And often.

We are taught about pain. Commonly we are taught to fear pain, to avoid it, to shy away from things that might hurt us. On the surface this seems right and good. But taken just a bit too far it has harmful consequences. What is meant to protect can actually impede and hinder.

Failure brings a form of pain. Failure is to be avoided. Then comes a sort of paralysis. We are unable to move, afraid we might fail. It might hurt.

So the sphere of our potential shrinks to fit around the things we know we can do that will not expose us to the potential pain of failure. Then from this safe cocoon we reach out to help others avoid that possible pain as well. We champion the cause of safety at all costs. Thus we feel we are doing good for our world.

However. In so doing so we rob those we protect of the experience of discovering just how far they can go. Our well-intentioned safe zones become fences and then prisons.

The inmates can accept their fate and prescribed boundaries, or they can rebel and attempt to escape. In this case, the rebel wins the right to learn their own real boundaries. The docile may eventually learn that safety is not everything. Or worse, they may never learn anything more than what they are told.

We are not all the same. We all take different paths. Some go to school, some go to work. For some school becomes work, and for others work becomes school. For some work, becomes a source of pain, a thing to be avoided. There be failure here.

For the free, the discovery of real limits means violating the bell curve of safety. It means touching the five percent fringe on either side just to see what happens.

We will pay the price for our freedom, to be sure. But it is our price to pay, our pain to bear, our failure to experience. And it is our own very personal knowledge to gain. It is our experience to own.

It is our life to live.

link to home page