Thursday, October 7, 2010

Headed Straight to Failuretown

When I was little, I didn’t want to take piano lessons.  The reason?  I didn’t know how to play the piano.  For most of my life, I have been told how talented I am at writing or singing or public speaking, which has led me to have an inflated ego that rivals just about anyone’s I know.  But here’s the deal--I’ve come to the realization that I am really good at everything I do because I only do things I’m good at.  My fear of failure is monstrous.
(Beautiful Bellatrix--Everybody loves a good villain.)

J. K. Rowling was on Oprah this week for the first time, and as a loyal Harry Pothead, I tuned in.  (P. S. I DVR Oprah every day but only watch about 1 out of 3 shows--Winona Judd?  Martha Stewart?  That shit gets erased IMMEDIATELY.)  Oprah was on location in Ireland, and Ms. Rowling was extremely eloquent and gracious as always.  I teared up a bit just listening to her talk about the upcoming release of Deathly Hallows (Part 1).  Go ahead and snicker.  I am convinced my wizarding powers are going to kick in any minute now.
Anyway, they showed a clip of her speech at Harvard University that I thought was so incredibly beautiful that I needed to put it on my know, to reach the millions of people who read this but don’t catch Oprah.  She was speaking about the time of her life before HP was published.  She was a recently divorced single mom, literally worried she might be homeless soon.  This is what she said:
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure?  Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.  I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.  I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.  And so, rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.  It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as not have lived at all.
So, as I continue on the path through my 1/3 life crisis, I’ve come up with another goal: start failing at things.  Or at the very least, I’ve got to start doing things that could potentially end in failure.  I am far from “rock bottom,” but I’m a firm believer in learning from other people’s experiences, so I want to stop living so cautiously, driven by the fear of failure.  Anyone know a good piano teacher in Charleston?

1 comment:

  1. You've learned this much sooner than I did. Recently, I started learning French, took up dancing, took my first Zumba classes and attended my first wine tasting. What's the worse thing that can happen?