If I followed all my advice, I would be disgustingly overearnest.
If I never got drunk, the hazy moments skinny-dipping, or sliding in mud at festivals, or midnight boat trips or all the rest of the wonderful semi-memories I have, might never have happened.
If I’d been wholly dedicated to one career, or my businesses had flourished straight away, perhaps I’d have seen less of the world, been on fewer adventures, or spent limited time with my friends.
If I was money-conscious, I could not have done many of the enjoyable, simple things I’ve done.
If I’d kissed all the girls (sorry – young ladies) that I’d set out to kiss, then the times I succeeded wouldn’t have been as wonderful. Plus I’d probably be an arrogant bastard.
I love failure. It teaches as much, if not more, than success.
Yet we’re taught that failure is negative. Bad ‘simpletom’, only got 5 out of 10 in his spelling test. ‘He failed to realise his potential’ was conspicuous by its continuing presence on my school report cards.
I realise that many of my recent posts have repeated a theme – going easy on oneself, removing double binds or conflicting expectations, and not working too hard. Through a specific lens it would be easy to see these proclamations as those of someone battling with self-justification. Well, that is completely the case. Guilty as charged.
Yet there’s an extremely important theme to this continuing repetition, which I cannot be reminded of enough. I’ll try to summarise this with a few key points.
If I could remind myself of a few things daily, these would be:
- There’s a chasm between what you think you can do and what you can do. Always. The only way to find peace within oneself is to accept what you do, not what you might have done. Dreams are great until you try to live up to them.
- The only route to happiness is by becoming better at failing and accepting failure. The happiest are those who best know themselves, rather than those who are the ‘best’.
- Sometimes, you’ll have a really shit day, even if you’re totally aware of #1 & #2 and your overearnest placid self-help mechanism will grind to a halt and you’ll forget all the good lessons you’ve ever learned.
- Sometimes you’ll have a brilliant day when you completely ignore #1 & #2, then wonder if #1 & #2 are true and if #3 will ever happen again, because everything’s great and you’ll try to repeat this day as often as possible, ignoring all your experience that tells you that it’s not sustainable, which eventually will mean you end at #3.
- #3 & #4 will keep happening, ad nauseum.
- You’ll never escape your body, mind or history (except through death, which is inevitable).
- If you write too many blog posts about ‘deep shit’, you’ll start to feel disgustingly earnest.
- Some days you’ll wonder what on Earth you’re going on about and wonder whether that means you’re having a #3 day or a #4 day.
- None of this really matters – at all – so you might as well try to kiss people and get drunk and ignore your advice while you keep one eye on #2.
- You’ll forget #9 and repeat from the beginning. The more repetitions you do, the easier it will get – which is why grannies are usually pretty Zen