That First Step

This week I’ve got some thoughts on the Law of Gravity and the nature of Failure. Long story short: My youngest son fell off his bike, knocked out a couple of his front teeth and chipped a couple others. Thankfully they were baby-teeth and he was otherwise uninjured. The reason I bring this up is that his reaction to it once he’d recovered from the initial shock both surprised and impressed me. The very next day he was wearing his injury like a merit badge proudly showing his dental trainwreck to anyone brave enough to look. He’s impatient to get back on the bike and ride again. Perhaps this time he’ll keep both hands on the handlebars.

I’ve always told my kids that you learn and grow through your failures. Success is nice and it keeps you going, but you never learn so much as when you crash and burn. I beamed with pride at his willingness to put his fear aside, pick himself up and jump back in the saddle. It’s a lesson many people forget as they get older and their failures become, in some instances, less traumatic. The great success stories of our world are typically this: a series of failures experienced by a person with dogged determination and a clear vision of what they want out of Life. I know this sounds like so much motivational claptrap and I suppose it is, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’ve failed many times. Sometimes it gets me down, but the difference is that it never keeps me down. I’ve been called bull-headed, stubborn, and downright dumb, but I don’t let it stop me. Sometimes you just have to be dumb enough to keep going down your own road despite all the evidence telling you to stop… to turn back… take an easier route. I don’t think that means that you should be unwilling to change. You never know where your path will lead you and I think you have to be open to that.

That’s why I’m calling this latest piece, “That First Step” (not quite finished). The image shows a figure carrying a parcel of some sort poised to take a step off a curb and into the street while a car approaches and a background figure (presumably) looks on. You can’t tell if the figure has the crossing light or if they’re stepping into oncoming traffic while looking the wrong way. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. For me the painting is symbolic of a change in my work that embodies some of my inner fear of failure and my fear of people being witness to them. Although these days when I make a major blunder in public I tend to take a bow instead of get flustered. It’s more fun that way and it keeps people guessing. I’ve put my fear aside and have taken steps to get back on the saddle I fell off of some years ago…

Take a moment today to reflect on the things you’ve really screwed up. Take another moment to celebrate them, take the lessons you need to learn from them, and let them go. Then… take that first step.

2 responses to “That First Step”

  1. Cat Rocketship Avatar

    Ugh, failures. Every successful person whom I admire has said something about how failure was the key: not fearing failure, embracing failure, failing over and over again. But it is still so terrifying. But good job in recognizing that fear and working with it.

  2. AMF Avatar

    Great post–so glad you shared your insight! I often wonder if one should continue down that "same road", your post put a nice spin on following ones song. Glad your son is well and holds no fear–that would not be the case with a lot of children so he sounds like a well-balanced trooper! Please continue to post your art & thoughts, most inspiring!

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