#023 - Success and Failure are the Path

As humans we always want things to “work out.” What that usually means is we get our way. We get what we want and feel like we have succeeded in the face of something hard or difficult. We have maneuvered successfully through life and are rewarded for our effort by getting a prize at the end. This prize could be more money, a happy relationship, a better house, a perfectly healthy body, or the absence of anxiety or depression. Or maybe it something more profound like a loved one does not die, or you don’t die. These are the things we want, and feel like if they happen we will be happy and complete.

I agree! These are good and wonderful things, they happen! They are occurring to people all the time, and they happen to us too. When things “work out” the way we want we could rejoice and feel the joy of connection and prosperity. But what happens when we don't get what we want? Do we experience the grief, disappointment, anger, and confusion? Or do we shut down and say, “No, this should not be happening.” From this point of denial we seem to go in two directions, one is to say “I did something wrong that’s why this is not working out.” Or “this other person did something wrong, and that’s why it isn’t working out.”

What a painful experience! Not getting want we want, which is hard enough, and then placing blame and resentment on top of those already painful feelings. Ouch! So what can we do differently? As the title states, success and failure are the path. There is nothing wrong with not getting what you want. It is actually an integral part of growing and maturing through the various life stages. For example, when a relationship ends that we had a lot of hope for we could feel the grief, disappointment, anger, and confusion. We could also feel the love, growth, and wisdom that we experienced.  Feeling all these emotions, seemingly contradictory, is the path. There is nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong with you, or them, or how it worked out. As Stephen Levine says in Leaning Toward the Light, we are growing and learning through “all the throes and flows a human experiences on the way to completion.”

So not getting what we want, failing at something important, is walking the path to completion. What completion means for you is your decision; some say completion is getting what we desire. Others say completion is coming to peace with all parts of ourselves, our experiences, and thus experiencing the joy present in just being alive. So success and failure are the path, and you never know, sometimes the failure is actually the beginning of another grand adventure!