"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all -- in which case, you fail by default." -- J.K. Rowling
I have certainly taken enough risks and failed enough times in life to know that I am living. But sometimes, when you live life to the fullest you wake up some days wondering if you took the right path. You ask yourself questions like: Am I a failure? Did I make too many mistakes to turn my life around? Was this part of the process or did I take a serious detour? Did I go right when I was supposed to turn left?
About four years ago, I made a decision to change the course of my life, but it didn't work out the way I expected. I had planned to work for a startup for years as I transitioned back to Los Angeles after living in New Jersey for almost seven years. But that all unraveled when my client lost his funding and could no longer pay me for my services. Note to self: Get contract terms in writing and don't work for free!
So instead of a carefully crafted plan of transition that I had intended, I found myself reacting to a series of curve balls that life threw my way. I packed a three-bedroom house within a few weeks so that I could move back to LaLa Land and rent out my home (couldn't afford the mortgage). I searched for months for a job to no avail (what did I want to do with my life now besides drink beer by the pool at 5 p.m.?). I took a position in car sales making $8 an hour just to get myself out of bed and productive (you mean drinking by the pool isn't an occupation?). I was down the rabbit hole, but nothing seemed to be going my way. As Abraham-Hicks would say, good or bad, when it rains it pours. I just wanted the rain to be made up of solid gold butterflies and be presented on a silver platter by a pool boy mimicking Channing Tatum circa the original Magic Mike. Was that so wrong?
I don't believe the universe (or God) has it out for me, or wanted me to spiral downward in this confusing torrent of bad events. Even though at times it felt as though God had forsaken me, I would temper this emotion with my brain that would remind me of what I know: I was here on this earth to learn some really important lessons, some wisdom that I could live by and share with others, and sometimes wisdom comes with a price tag. My price tag felt like incessant failure and that was hard to face. Was I moving towards something bigger or was each and every moment in time a reminder that I could not find my way to the light at the end of the tunnel?
One day I had the good fortune of hearing JK Rowling's Harvard commencement address from 2008 where she discussed failure, reminding me that many people who succeed do so after much heartache and trial. She said, "You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable." I thought to myself I was getting close, but at least I was in good company if I could even remotely compare my journey to the amazing one that she has experienced. It reminded me of Napoleon Hill's quote that "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit." I had gone pretty far down the rabbit hole, was it possible I could salvage all of this failure on the flip side to make a magnificent recovery? Only time will tell.
JK Rowling originally conceived the idea for Harry Potter in 1990, and it took her about seven years after that to finish the first novel in the series - and during that period her mother died, she divorced from her first husband, and she lived in poverty. That's when it hit me! I was going through failure, not towards it. For whatever reason, all of my experiences, many of them difficult, some of them embarrassing, and other's just downright stupid were ALL part of the process... they were in the corridor on the way to who I needed to become and therefore were critical experiences, lessons that couldn't be learned any other way.
The dichotomy of my faith was that I had to believe to see, not the other way around. Don't get me wrong, there have been other times in my life where things were tough, I was worried, yet life slowly, but surely began to pleasantly surprise me in big and small ways. But how many times had life surprised me in good ways when I was too busy looking for a big, grandiose win -- a home run -- that I missed the magic right in front of me at that moment?
Hill also said, "Success requires no explanation -- Failure permits no alibis." I wasn't going to hold anyone responsible for where I was right now -- because some of the decisions I made were not the best, and even my mistakes were leading me down the right path (Sorry to quote Kanye, but he said it well when he rapped the lines "I'm trying to right my wrongs, but it's funny them same wrongs helped me write this song"). So I was going to stop blaming people. People I thought I had forgiven, who played a role in shaping my journey, whether villainous or angelic (oh, and there were both). They had been there to help me become the person I was put on this earth to be. My wrongs had led me here after all. And here is where I will rebuild from, walking forward with faith.