For Christmas this year, I received a coffee mug from a good friend. It's one of those Quotable Mugs with an adage. It says WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD NOT FAIL? This particular friend and I have a history of challenging our limits, so it was the perfect gift.
Just this morning, I woke up, looked at the box on my bookshelf, and began wondering. What the hell would I do if I knew I could not fail? I pondered the notion as I peed. I continued thinking as I took a daily dose of Zantac and ibuprofen, and watered my plants. I started to panic after ten minutes when i realized I had no effing idea what I would do if I could not fail.
I went downstairs. I put on a pot of water to boil and ground coffee grains.
A film short played in my mind. I whisked my boyfriend and I off to Mo'orea where we rented a cottage for a year. I wrote and wrote. He played music and ran around the island to get closer to his idea of his physical ideal. We slept in a hammock some nights, and other nights we didn't sleep at all...
Then, the image faded and fear settled in. Why was that my image of defying failure? Why can't I defy failure in my life right now? I tend to get very angry with myself; many of you know this. It's a side effect of the tumor of guilt I've carried around for two and a half decades. And it doesn't help that the version of me seen by those at my school and workplace is of this confident and unstoppable man. I'm really just a little boy scared to death of this big bad world. I'm even afraid of myself. When I start to fear myself, I count my failures. This is like counting cooked rice grains in a lotus bowl; they stick together and to my fingers. It's not the most pleasant experience, but there's something comforting and fascinating about the way the rice feels. I quickly realize I cannot count the failures in my life because I cannot remember all of them - they've rolled away.
So, what would I do if I knew I could not fail? I'd be more vulnerable and open to the world. I'd buy a plane ticket to Paris and a train ticket to Vancouver. I'd go to the places I've wanted to go for years. I've dreamed of spending weeks or months in a secluded spot since I was in high school. Even though I am an extremely extroverted person, I recognize my need to be totally, or close to, alone. I'm not afraid of that idea. Now I'm starting to fear this post makes no sense. FAIL, it could be a four-letter word. Or it could be a motivator.
Tomorrow, when I wake up, I am going to stare that little box down and accept its challenge.
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