Remembering Failure Is Not Just For Failures

Every so often, I feel a weight in my chest that I can only compare to that of the cider presses of the orchard up the dirt road from my childhood home. This crushing force is built up thoughts and emotion coming to terms that they have to escape; when they escape, I create. I had an ‘outburst’ the other evening and laid the foundation for some new paintings, but tonight…tonight I write.

At the beginning of August, I decided that August would be the month of productivity and escape from distractions. At the beginning, I pushed myself to become more educated in art/art business, finish nagging projects, remove frivolous spending and have an overall healthier approach to life, in hopes of obtaining the “life I’ve hoped for”. (I’ve learned that at this point, the very thought that I might know what makes me happy is at best laughable.)

It is the eve of September first and I feel fantastic…and did not accomplish a single one of my August goals. Sure, I had my days where I was above-average in productivity, but for the most part it was a ‘normal’ month. It’s strange, but in my hopes of having a month that was, I guess you’d say, ‘revelatory’, I am now finding myself having a revelation in a completely different way. I believed that if I could accomplish a certain set of tasks and goals (predefined), I would have a more positive outlook on life and would therefore be happier. It might seem like this is common knowledge and to some it factually is a way of life, but not to me. To me, I live in moments I later reflect on, unforeseen conversations that burn in my mind for days, unplanned events becoming unforgettable…in simple, how I receive the unknown.

I have felt like a failure in the last few days, knowing that I would not reach my goals and it’s taken every ounce of strength to keep from falling back into a familiar rut of self-deprecating thoughts, but today is different. Today, I didn’t think of what I didn’t accomplish and consequently how I was a failure (which a pretty regular thing in my life) but rather what I enjoyed in August. Without going on rabbit-trails, I hosted a house-show, hosted a going away party, spent time with friends from out-of-town that were passing through, spent 10 days riding bikes and laughing with a great friend from Canada staying with me, opened up my home and had people from 5 different countries on my front porch telling stories and laughing to the point of tears, I furthered my knowledge at work at have been heavily involved in learning CNC programming along with other things and guess what…not a single one of those things was on my list.

So often, I beat myself up for who I am not or based on what I haven’t done or what I want to but haven’t changed yet. I’m not saying that there isn’t a need for discipline and discernment in our time and goals and where we ultimately end up, what I’m saying is all of my goals were self-based, things I wanted to accomplish for me, but what my actions said is that I wanted to be with people, enjoying life, not checking off lists.

This is to encourage people like myself to keep working hard despite “failures”. My whole life I have felt inadequate in every way; I wish I looked different, I wish I didn’t have the personality I have, I wish I didn’t have the overwhelming pressure of religion so deeply embedded into my blood that I barely breathe at best, I wish I knew that past relationships ended mutually beneficial but I writhe in thinking someone is/has hurt because of me, I work until my eyes and fingers bleed to quell the fear that I will one day die and ‘could have done more with my time’. I fear so many things in life that today feels like a pretty substantial, to see a list of ‘failures’ looking back at me and not hate myself, but rather feel more confident than I have in a long time.

This is for the hopeless in their beds, waiting for the sun to rise that it may fall again; this is for the wanderer that fights the battle of knowing that he feels most at home when he wanders, but aches endlessly for a home; this is for the shadowed flower in the shade of a redwood, whose beauty feels ignored at the feet of giants; this is for the tired who persevere to shed light to the lost sea goers in the thick of the storm; this is for the one drowning in the debts of the world.

Tomorrow is new: a canvas of creativity, a world of wonder, a fresh perspective of being.

I will continue to work at my goals, to become the person I want to be, but never the cost of who I am at the core and I am okay with that…I’m learning that I’m okay with that. Work hard and set your sights high, but don’t forget to breathe.

Hold fast hope,
Joel William

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