failure is an option

i watched “secretariat” last night, and was impressed (as i always am when i encounter these types of people) by penny tweedy, the horse’s owner, who, in face of lousy and very long odds, refused to give up. she was inspired, as was i, by the spiritual “oh, happy day,” and told her people that they would live each day with joy no matter what. i also heard james cameron speaking at the TED conference, saying that even though NASA says otherwise, failure has to be an option. that one must move forward against all odds, and allow that one might fail. if one shies away from the possibility of failure, one will never try anything. he was far more eloquent than that, but you get the gist. for cameron and penny, if they had quit when failure became an option, they would not have succeeded as they did.

i wonder if i am one of those people. as an “artist,” it took me until i was about 50 before i dared show my photographs to a gallery owner. she was a friend, and i was certain she would say no thank you – i had been to her gallery and i “knew” that my work was not even close to a good fit. but she professed to love them and took them and, though the gallery has moved, and i’ve only sold two or three, there they hang.

now faced with the prospects for where multiple sclerosis might lead, i wonder if i will be a match for it’s challenges. every now and then, i realize that i have spent three or four days choosing my wheelchair over my walker – even though i can negotiate the house just fine with the walker, and i firmly believe that walking is a use-it-or-lose it proposition. riding is just so much easier. i know that walking is well worth the struggle. it might only be available to me for a limited time – there may come a day when i simply cannot make my feet move. i dream of spring, when my driveway will magically transform from mud into hard dirt, and i can dust of my crutches and start walking however far i can each day. if not crutches (balance is a tricky thing on this spinning earth…) then the walker.

cameron and tweedy had that conviction that they had to keep pushing as far as was possible, and beyond. a scary thought, and sometimes i wonder, as i suppose they did too, if i have that in me.

i might walk half way down the driveway, i might fall, i might have to call my long-suffering wife on my cell phone and ask her to come get me, but i have to keep my feet moving as long as i can. and i have to work to convince myself – and accept – that although failure IS an option, as cameron said, fear is not.

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2 thoughts on “failure is an option

  1. Hey, Stephen, I’ve never met anyone who was not scared of something. It’s when the excitement of the challenge overrides the fear that the strange alchemy of risk taking leads to new horizons. But if we weren’t scared once in a while we’d blindly blunder into stupid decisions and no one wants that.

    Cheers, Cous. and good luck with the driveway. Challenges are not measured in magnitude but the distance one travels outside their comfort zone. The wider one stretches that circle, the more room we have within which to live. I used to be imprisoned within the confines of my mind and even my thoughts were not very adventurous so you can imagine how trapped I felt.

  2. Spring has arrived. Be as active as you can and then some. Do it every day. A saying that I have come to embrace. ‘A body in motion stays in motion.’ Be strong Stephen. You have plenty more photographs to take.

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