The only time I ever actually feel a sense of incredible failure is when I compare myself to anyone else. It’s the reason I try never to do so. Maybe it’s the reason why I encourage others to practice the same approach in life…
I came across this drawing I did about 5 years ago – sometime in 2007 – documenting in my typical fashion some cutting exercise gone horribly wrong, explaining one of the many grotesque scars on my thumb. I think it’s funny now and I’m glad I keep a journal. At times it is awkward to go back reread such things and find I am still giving the same empty sermons to my head – realizing that virtually nothing in my mental landscape has evolved – poignant that I also drew a dog chasing its tail on the same page… Maybe it’s humbling to realize that in spite of any actual aspirations I have of doing something – anything – slightly compelling, substantive, lasting, let alone contributory to the rest of the world, I’m starting to come to grips with the fact that it’s not going to happen. I’m saddled with an unparalleled strain of laziness and pie-eyed optimism and too much child like curiosity. I am, in the words of R. Lee Ermey, ‘an unorganized, grabasstic piece of amphibian shit’… I honestly don’t care that much anymore. Sometimes I think I’m ahead of the curve – finding friends and peers, slowly worming their way out of the organized world, up to their elbows in rebuilding odd and rare italian cars, who no longer define themselves by any other means. Their day jobs aren’t what they talk or care about.
Those who do, I find, fall into a trap of endless and repetitive cliches. “It is what is”, was woven into virtually every sentence of conversation with a different friend this evening – like a nervous tic, or self-induced Tourettes… It breaks my heart and makes me glad I’ve not become that way, both at the same time.
I went back to my old journal, scouring for a good beer recipe, since I’m going to brew a batch tomorrow, and because I knew there was a point in time that I was brewing obsessively; studying yeast, microbes, Louis Pasteur, trying even to malt my own grains. I found one – along with a long treatise/observation I’d written about how so many ‘traditional’ beer styles were dictated by seasons and immediate environment. How conditions and circumstance and cellaring/storage options created the styles we try to ‘replicate’. Somehow, to me, they were more genuine because they didn’t come about as a result of someone just thinking of how much shit they could add or ‘tweak’ to make it different. I like that. It made me proud to know that I hadn’t changed at all from that vein of thought – even though I’ve done nothing with it, and pretty much no one else will ever see beauty in it… It’s good to see a reflection, a footprint, a cave painting left over from somebody I like and admire.
I don’t believe in failure. I think it is a completely man made construct, because it only ever exists when there are preconceived expectations about any given outcome. It’s the reason why I prefer to be naive about things as much as possible – to learn as little as I need to know, and then jump in and appreciate or think or improvise based on what I’ve got, what I know I can do, what I can’t do, what I won’t do. It’s the only way I ever feel totally free – it’s the reason why I don’t generally judge anyone, why I always engage strangers, want to know what makes their existence unique – because I like and need to believe that there are other people in the world who think the same way.
There’s something even deeper about it all, though. A goose is a complete failure at being a duck, and even worse at being a hummingbird, and a frog is a complete failure at being a lizard. A butterfly is forever a complete failure at ever being a caterpillar again. Things become. They are. They are unique versions of existence and life. Just as each of us is – our circumstance, our tastes, the things that motivate us. They change and grow – or sometimes they’re cast and never vary in the underlying beat, the resonant frequency at which the soul sings. That’s why I’ll never believe in failure in any genuine sense of the word. The only way it ever exists is when others close their minds and believe that no other option or solution is possible… Imagine a world where everyone sought to fail miserably and genuinely for their own sake.