When I was a little girl I wanted to be a rock star. Not just any rock star but a bigger-than-life rock star. Bigger than the Stones. Better than the Beatles. I wanted to be the rock star to end all rock stars. Anyone who knows me now knows how absurd this is but in my little girl mind it’s what I dreamed about. But also looming in the very back of my little girl mind was the fact that it would never happen. I’m not sure how I knew but I did.
Looking back I can see how far-fetched my dream really was but as children we view things differently. As I grew older and the dream faded I never felt as if I was a failure for not achieving rock star status. Some things are not meant to come to fruition. Even if this was considered a failure it didn’t matter. It’s not like I actually relished the idea of life on the road with a band of musicians with bigger hair than I had.
From a relatively young age I loved to write. As time went by and I was encouraged by several lovely school teachers to set free my creative juices, my dreams turned to writing for a living. This is not a dream I shared with anyone. It wasn’t a practical occupation at the time for someone like me so I wrote in my spare time; poetry mostly. (As an aside, many years ago I came across those poems and was so stunned and horrified by the pain I had revealed on paper that I destroyed them. Stupid I know but I never, ever wanted anyone to see the explosive emotions I had laid out in print.)
Did I fail at writing the book I’d dreamed about? Yes, I suppose I did. But I didn’t fail at writing. The book would have been the end product of something I was already good at but with or without it I’m still a writer.
My poetry took on a whole new tone and meaning when our first greyhound Misty Blue died. I wanted to pay tribute to this special dog so I wrote about her and the pain of her loss. In 1997 I decided to venture into the world of website creation and put my work on the internet. What started out as a small memorial to a dog that meant so much to me has morphed, in 13 years, to one of the most substantial and helpful pet loss websites on the Web. Did my poetry end up in a book? Nope. Did it make a difference in the lives of countless people mourning the loss of a pet? Yep. I failed at writing a book but did not fail at writing. A side effect of my website is that I was able to learn enough about the subject to help others by creating their sites which has been fun.
Several years ago I tried my hand at jewelry making. I was pretty good at it but didn’t succeed in a business sense. Did I fail? It depends on how you look at it. In some ways I failed but there are people out there enjoying my creations and that counts for something.
I actually hate the word failure although I’ve used it to describe myself when I have, indeed, failed miserably at something. The word evokes a sense of hopelessness, as if because we failed there is no hope of moving on from it. According to William D. Brown, “Failure is an event, never a person.” I think he may be on to something there.
Failure is a matter of perspective. What I see as a failure you might see as a glitch in the road. What you see as a fatal failure could seem to me a crossroads to something better.
Life is a series of setbacks and recoveries among other things. Whether we’re writers, designers, inventors, store clerks, talk show hosts, truck drivers or rock stars we are going to fail at something sometime in our lives. The question is what do we do with it in order to accomplish something else? If we can look at our failures as a means to a greater end we just might find the answer.
Failure comes from trying and that’s really all we can do. As long as we try there will be successes and failures. Perhaps we should spend more time looking at our successes, no matter how small, than our failures. These little successes give us the hope that the word failure tries to take away.
Failure is in the eye of the beholder. How we look at it will determine what we do with it. So let’s forge ahead and keep trying because in trying we succeed.