Sunday, June 26, 2016

Falling Up

Greetings all,

We've had a scorcher this week.  The full moon on the summer solstice was intense and I was running to get all my obligations seen to so that I could perform my quarterly drumming ceremony.  By the end of the day I ended up chasing the sun.  It was close but the ceremony went off and finished before the sun kissed the western horizon.  I look forward to the day when I have a house that has enough land around it that I can simply drum there and not have to go seek out a spot in a park where I will be left alone.  It was a rather powerful and focused ceremony.  I built up to a crescendo and then all of the sudden I stopped.  Then I got to do a despacho with one of my teachers and we all drummed again around a bonfire.  It was a pretty magnificent night.

This year I've been easing out of my old patterns.  I've removed the metaphorical training wheels on my bike and the floaters from my arms.  I'm finally just using my talents to make my way in the world without any part time jobs to fill in the gaps.  It's challenging and I find myself worrying about making ends meet. I've done this before a decade ago.  I tried it for two years and I failed spectacularly.  I've failed a lot in my life.  I'm always in awe of those people who pick a goal and simply sail towards it.  I end up usually hitting obstacles that derail me and send me off on bizarre tangents.  In other words I end up playing a game I like to call, "How many different ways can I fail at this."

I've been told that real success comes after a lot of failure.  I had a pottery teacher who once told me you had to make a thousand ugly pots before you could make a beautiful one.  The trick was just getting through the thousand without giving up.  As I look back on my previous attempts to make my way on my skills I am actually grateful I failed.  Ten years ago I knew so much less than I do now, and I am sure a decade from now I'll say the same.  The previous setbacks put me in situations where I acquired a whole new set of skills, and where I stopped thinking so narrowly allowing for more flexibility. So I like to think of my failures as failing upwards.  I learned things that I then applied to subsequent iterations.  So if in this round I fail again I will expand my knowledge base.

However there is a downside with too much failure, you get used to it.  Sometimes I have to stop myself from sabotaging my success.  The danger comes when you start to identify a failed attempt with being a failure.  We're so obsessed with success stories in our culture that we often gloss over the years of failed attempts that lead to breakthroughs, or we cover them in a montage scene with catchy upbeat music in the "based on a true story," movie that comes out.  It is hard to stay inspired without the upbeat music and cheer section that the movies provide.  Most of us that diverge from the pack only get criticism from those closest to us as we try to do something different.  Lots of time this is meant to protect us from failing, but usually it just leads us to feel like a failure.  Failing up is different, it is the process of failing that leads us forward with more experience and information.  It is a botched attempt that points the way.

So how about you?  Do you dread life's many failures?  When you fail does it motivate you or drain you?  To do anything of significance and challenge we must court failure.  What if instead of trying to avoid failure you tried to fail correctly?  Fail upward, let each miss-step land you further down the road of your dreams.  Remember this isn't a movie, and life is not a montage.  What if when you fail you didn't take it personally?  I know it can be hard, but instead of viewing everything that goes wrong as a personal flaw we'd do much better to simply see why something didn't work.  Sometimes it is us, and sometimes it is lack of knowledge.  Sometimes it is just being at the right place at the wrong time.  The important thing to remember is that you have a lot to offer, as long as you don't give up, and when you fail try and fail up.

Peace and Blessings,
Thomas Mooneagle

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