When Is Failure An Option-2012 Edition

Sometimes the way we move forwards is by looking backwards:



The next time I get stabbed I hope that my assailant chooses a better blade. Something a little bit sharper than a rusty butter knife would be nice. I am sure that sounds ridiculous to you, but I’d rather have it just slide in than to be battered repeatedly with an object that can’t quite pierce my skin. Sure, there is the ego boost that comes from being able to say that your shoulder blade is semi invulnerable.

What is up with that. Dad is supposed to be a real superhero. Bullets are supposed to bounce off of his chest. Some people would say that a father who can’t do that is a failure. And if you believe what you hear and or read, ‘failure is not an option.’ It makes for a good slogan. I can think of  all sorts of ways to market it. T-shirts, buttons, television, movies and more. Or alternatively we could turn it upside down and make it a slogan for Jersey Shore.

But that is not what this post is about and I really shouldn’t have mentioned that show because I feel like I just lost 18 IQ points by mentioning it.

Don’t know why but I keep thinking about a moment in time from my fraternity days. It is around 1989 or so and we are at the house. The place is packed full of people and I am one of what feels like a million bodies moving and swaying to The Power.

The music starts and there is no room on the dance floor for anyone to do much more than nod their head and pretend like they have some sense of rhythm. Tonight it doesn’t matter to me what I look like because Lori, Lisa and Marissa are at the party with me.

I have known them for a million years and there is nothing romantic between any of us, but they tell me not to worry because when other women see us dancing they will feel more comfortable speaking to me because they are around.

Mere moments into the song the floor magically clears and two of the guys are out there. They have taken over the space and people are hooting and hollering. That is because they can flat out dance. They are the epitome of grace and rhythm and I am…not.

That is ok. They are among the nicest guys you will ever meet. That night they are also among the most popular guys at the party. It seems like every woman there wants to dance with them. Marissa taps me on the shoulder and tells me that if I learn how to move like they do I will never be lonely.

 Thank You Marissa

Almost a quarter of a century later I look back at that moment and realize that I should have thanked Marissa. Her comment did two things:

  1. It irritated me. I didn’t want to be judged or compared to those guys, especially since they could do something I couldn’t.
  2. It made me focus on what made/makes me who I am.

The reason this is relevant to me now is that a good while back I hit some rough spots and had to make some significant alterations to the life I was leading and the path I was going down. It frustrated me because much of it had nothing to do with things I did and everything to do with what others did. It irked me because if I am going to get into trouble than I want to earn it.

I am good at it. If there are consequences for an action that is going to affect me let me be the one who caused that situation to exist. Except this time I had almost no responsibility for what happened. While I can’t say that I take no responsibility I can say that it is limited.

What bothers me is that my kids had to take some of the brunt of those consequences and that is not cool. And that dear reader takes me back to another excerpt from the post I quoted earlier.

“Life is filled with wonder and magic but it also comes with haunted forests and scary flying monkeys. And the problem with being a semi invulnerable superhero is that I can’t always be there to fight off the monsters of the night. So I have to teach them how to do that for themselves”

I think in the years to come when I look back at this period of time I will forget about the frustration I feel now with not having made more inroads and advances than I have.

Instead this will be when I recognize that we were much further along than I realized. This will be when I see how far my children have come and how much we have all grown.

Maybe I can’t dance with the same sort of grace and rhythm as the fellas did but even a guy who lumbers about can make his way down the road.

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