See that list over there on the right? I’ve been thinking about what to do with it. I already confessed to the reality of it being incomplete and unfinished. And I said I’m fine with that. Most of the time. OK, actually, the fact that I dropped it once does have me a little hesitant about making another list.
I originally typed a whole different post about why I should or shouldn’t make another list to go with my blog. And then I deleted it. That post was hard to write. The fact that it was 2 degrees in “The-Coffee-Shop-With-the-Loudest-Refrigerators-in-the-World” did not help, but it wasn’t that. The words were just not flowing out of me. I was trying to write about how the list would give this place a theme and structure and blah, blah, blah. And how when it comes to setting goals, my eyes are bigger than my stomach or the hours in a day or whatever, you know what I mean, right? Then I started ranting about resolutions again, but basically, it all boiled down to this: What if I publicly make another list on here and then I don’t finish it? Again. What will you think of me then? And when I say “you” here, I mostly mean me.
As soon as I typed those questions, I wanted to delete them too. But then some words popped into my head. Encouraging words from two of my favorite authors and thinkers. (I read a lot.) The first were these: “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.” I first heard these words spoken by Pema Chodron, who is a Buddhist nun, during a TV interview. This was the title of a graduation address she gave recently. I later read that she was quoting the author Samuel Beckett. I don’t know who he is, but I looked it up and apparently he wrote these words, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
I learned about the second dose of encouragement while reading Brene Brown. She’s an author and a research professor at the University of Houston. The words actually belong to Theodore Roosevelt. It’s kind of long, but worth the read in my opinion. He said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
I’m sure you can think of some quotes that feel encouraging in times of doubt or hesitation. So many people have written words like these and it reminds me that we’re all in this thing together, and we can’t expect to go very long as human beings, before some things are going to go wrong, get messed up and be left unfinished. That’s just how it is. For everyone. And the failing doesn’t matter. It’s the trying and trying again that matters. That’s where the growing and the life happens.
Now, to be clear, I have failed (and succeeded!) at way bigger things than this blog list. I’ve got bigger things than this list going on in my life right now. It may seem a bit silly even, to be all waxing poetic about it. I mean, I’m quite sure my world will go on just fine whether I ever plant a terrarium or not. Some of those list items were just little things, really, but really, all those little things add up to big things. It feels hopeful too and expectant, to set some little goals, try some new things, and see what I can make happen, even if some things don’t. They might not. So, I will make another list and try, for sure, to accomplish it, but I’m also going to keep those encouraging words in mind, because they help me not to be my own loudest critic. Feel welcome to keep them in mind for yourself, if you should need or like them.
I also like what Pema went on to say in her speech, that, “its a little hard to tell, actually, what’s a failure and what’s something that’s just shifted your life in a new direction.” I wonder what direction my life will take if I try to do these things…
My winter list:
- go to a few new (to me) restaurants
- host some gatherings at my house
- take a spin class
- log a few hundred miles on my bike trainer
- continue learning yoga
- do something that scares me
- plant a terrarium