Failure = humble?

Silenced for awhile, but here I am and 20 lbs lighter. I know you’re probably wondering why I’m 20 lbs lighter. There are many possibilities…my ego could’ve been deflated…maybe just one of my ears was severely damaged as I was saving the world (wait, if that happened I’d be more than 20 lbs lighter)…maybe I donated a kidney? All those would be exciting reasons, but actually I’ve been dealing with an unexciting but gnarly case of viral gastroenteritis. For those of you who may not know what that is…just a fancy medical term for the all too common “stomach bug.” I ate something handheld the previous day before I became ill without washing my hands so I am attributing my illness to that and there’s no other explanation, no matter who you are…I had dirty hands and then I became sick. Not washing my hands is not a common characteristic for me, I was just very hungry at the time.

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It was an exhausting two weeks as an array of tests were conducted from blood work, to x-ray, to CT scan, to a fiber-optic camera up my you know where. And for what? Well, I guess we shall see. I’ve decided not to worry about it until I have to and that’s not today. In fact, I’m going backpacking in Colorado this weekend so I don’t have to even begin to worry until next week because I’m going to be 100% disconnected. Before I tell you more about my backpacking plans, I’ll tell you my inspiration for said adventure.

For me inspiration comes experience, whether it be my own experiences or the experiences of others. Since I’m a bit of a hermit lately, I don’t get out much and mingle with like-minded individuals but I do watch Ted Talk’s and sometimes I feel as those the talks are meant just for me. Does that mean I’m vain? Have you ever heard of Ted Talks? Do you enjoy them as much as I do? The talks are meant to be influential videos featuring speakers from all walks of life. Some are short, and some are long. Very broad range of topics. I recently came across and old, but new to me Ted Talk featuring a well known individual by the name of JK Rowling. I think it’s fair to say that individuals between the ages of 7 – 50 are familiar with the author. If you’re not, she just so happens to have authored the Harry Potter franchise and became a billionaire after selling over 450 million copies of the series to date. Rowling’s talk was recorded during a Harvard commencement speech and the talk was on how failure is actually responsible for her success. I hate failure, hate it hate it hate it. I’m so determined not to fail, that when I do … I go someplace dark with my mind. I become distant and angry, with myself.

If you have 20 mins and 58 secs to spare, here is JK Rowling’s Ted Talk. Back to failure…I have a tattoo on my left rib cage over an area where I have some residual nerve damage from a bike accident almost a decade ago that symbolizes the rejection of failure. That is how much I hate to fail. The ink is meaningful to me because I can look at it everyday and be reminded of a time in my life when I faced a huge decision, to give up or work hard to restore my mobility. After listening to JK Rowling’s describe her failures and how those failures are actually responsible for her success, I realized … Rowling’s onto something. As I was laying in my bed, soaking in my own pity of things that transpired over the past week that further creeped on into to the weekend… I made a decision to change my mindset. No matter what bad shit is going on with me right now, the only thing I can do to change it is to accept the failures, learn from them, and move on.

If you don’t have 20:58 to spare, I’ll share with you some of my takeaways from her 2008 commencement speech:


“you might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success” – JK Rowling


Benefits of failure as stated by Rowling:

  • stripping away of the inessential
  • stop pretending to yourself that you’re anything other than what you are
  • direct all energy into finishing what matters to you
  • find the determination to succeed in the one arena that you believe you belong (then find another one…and another one…and another one).

She credits these benefits to setting herself free and her rock bottom became the solid foundation on which she rebuilt my life. We could all use a solid foundation and stability. Just imagine a world like that, just for a minute. It almost produces the same happy feeling as you get when imagining a world in which operators of motor vehicles utilized the turning signal. Can you imagine?


“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” JK Rowling


So after the talk concluded I decided that I’m going camping. I know you’re probably thinking, how could that possibly inspire me to go camping? Well, I’m glad that you asked because I’m going to tell you. For me, my best self and best thoughts come about when I am in complete silence and not focusing or worrying about the everyday troubles in this thing we call life. I’ve upset a few people by this decision, mostly because I’m just getting over this stomach virus and they’re worried I might do something stupid. Something someone with Bipolar might do. Well, I might …because I do have Bipolar. But so what? That’s not what is important. I need escape the sounds of city living, the stress of daily life as I see all the bad shit going on in the world, the constant worry of if each day will be a good day for J and I …that today might be the day. Never would I have thought the current feeling I am experiencing would happen, but it’s here and I have to deal with it. Illness will definitely not only show you things about yourself that you didn’t know such as your strength and vulnerabilities, but illness will also show you who your friends are, but more-so …your fair weather friends.


“Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.” – JK Rowling


I’m going to deal with Bipolar Disorder for the remainder of my years, it’s a part of me. I’ve failed, I’m human, I’m Bipolar and I’m going to be one motherfucking happy camper as I backpack up, down and around 11 mile canyon in Colorado (outside of Denver). Here’s to rebuilding my life (that’s what this trip is about).  Who wants to see what’s in my back pack?

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