All the fails
Every night, before my daughter goes to sleep, we have a little Q & A time. I ask her (at least) three things: tell me about a time you were brave today, tell me about a time you were kind today, and tell me about a time you failed today. (I do something similar with my son, but he is 3 ½ years old, so it looks a bit different)
I know we will all mess up our children to some degree, (and mine have the added bonus of having a therapist and a creative for a Mom..."How do you feel about this painting of a vagina?"), but I promise, there is an after-school-special-purpose to the ‘fail’ question.
I’m a firm believer that kids need to fail, make mistakes, fall, land on their feet, stumble…etc. Learning how to fail is as important as learning how to brush your teeth; one prevents cavities while the other exercises your “self-confidence/resilience/soul-shiner muscle”. Oh, you did not know you had one of those?! Well, you do. We can’t see it of course, but it’s there. Think of it like an invisibility cloak for your outer body, which also can penetrate through your skin, tissue, muscle, tendons, cartilage, organs, blood…all of it. If this muscle had a jingle, it would most definitely be: “Just let your soul glo! Let it shine through.”
Although she did not really understand the question at first, (brave and kind are no brainers), she is getting there. And her answers are hilarious- “I wrote the word ‘T’ wrong.” Me: “And then what happened?” “I wrote it wrong again and again.” Me: “And then what happened?” “And then I got it. So I failed”.
Apart from hearing the sweet stories about her day vis-a-vis brave knight, kind princess, and dopey, the failing elf, one of my favorite things is when she gets to turn the questions on me. She really likes to ask me about disgust…not sure if this is residue from Inside Out, or she just really wants to know what gets under my skin, but I have found that I am now forced to really think about honesty: do I really tell her what disgusted me today? And the answer is, it depends. She does not need to know that when I watched the last episode of Transparent, (which is an AMAZING show), and saw one of the main character’s spread his friend’s ashes into the sea, that I had a visceral reaction which vacillated between sadness, fascination, and disgust, as it reminded me of the smell and texture of my Dad’s ashes, (READ: crunchy, bone, cartilage, & oddly sweet smelling). I have no problem discussing death and the death of her Poppa with her, but feelings of disgust about his ashes, right before bed? Nah. Instead I will talk about feeling disgusting after exercise, as it is still bloody hot over here in Hawai’i and I sweat just by merely existing, let alone walking in the AM.
Of course there will come a time when I can and will be more honest with her regarding answers to questions like this one. Especially with ye old failure, as she is such a powerful teacher.
In the meantime however, I thought I’d share with you some of my most epic failures. My top 3 fails, if you will:
1) This one is so good that it even made it into one of the speeches given at my wedding: I swallowed my engagement ring and had to pound prune juice in order to poop into a plastic bag and retrieve it.
Mic drop? Still with me? How does this work, you ask? Well, it puts the ring in it's mouth and it swallows it.
The best part is that it took about a day and a half to pass through my body, so I had to carry around a bunch of plastic bags with me wherever I went...and we were on a mini-vacation, so there was a lot of eating out. I will never forget the phone call to my Doctor, having to repeat myself as he could not believe what I had just said, and him freaking me out with stories of swallowed things getting stuck in these “little pockets” we have throughout our body. Gee, thanks, Doc.
Now, we get to relive my awesomeness each year on our anniversary, when we watch our wedding video.
And the million-dollar question you are all wondering- did I learn my lesson about not putting random things in my mouth?
No. No I did not.
2) After I went through a rather painful and confusing part of my life, (READ: my mid twenties), where I did my fair share of practicing dishonesty and infidelity, I was “gifted” some free time to sort my brain out. I did some great things during this time like fail at learning how to drive stick, rescue my friend from a rushing river, made out with a stranger, (and some others I absolutely should not have), traveled to Belgium to spend time with my best friend, only to turn around and leave after a day or two, (before she had even arrived to meet up with me, mind you), more lying…you get the picture. So, I clearly failed at being given the “gift of free time/a sort your shit out period”. But I am more interested in the things that I chose NOT to do as prime epic fail examples:
a. I did not do a silent yoga/meditation retreat. Talk about a more perfect time to be still with your thoughts! Nope. Didn’t want to do it. Was not ready.
b. I did not go on an epic solo trip across the US or to any other amazing destination in our great world. (The extended lay-over in Belgium does not count in my book)
c. I did not learn something new and amazing like write a book, learn a foreign language, how to make bread, how to whittle wood, hike the stairway to heaven, read all the Potter books, become a wizard myself, or build something amazing…like a table.
d. I did not pursue my creativity more: writing, drawing, or acting (see below for more details).
e. Anything. Else. Awesome.
3) Not pursuing acting more. I have loved acting since I was a child. In college, when seeking the all-powerful and mighty wisdom of my late Pops, he suggested I choose Psychology over Theatre as a major, as one is more of a “sure thing” than the other, both professionally and financially. Perhaps this is because he lived as an artist for a good portion of his life and wanted to save me from the struggles that such a lifestyle most assuredly provides. Perhaps he saw me act and thought to spare me from the sea of rejections I was destined to drown in. Who knows. But, being the great listener that I am, I followed his advice. And here we are today.
All Dad blaming aside, I absolutely failed at putting myself out there in terms of auditions, seeking roles, taking risks and just trying! Although I am essentially in the same place, (and am a fabulous yoga teacher/creative/counselor/therapist), I know that there will come a time when I will try again…and most assuredly fail. But that’s okay. Because if my daughter’s experience in failure thus far is writing “T” wrong a few times and finally getting it, she will think I am a warrior of epic proportions. The Epic Warrior of Failure.
Not a bad title to have as it means life has been lived, love has been lost and gained, rings have been retrieved, and tables have been made. All good things, all good things.