Listening to Failure


When painting, I listen to podcasts from shows like This American Life or Serial.

I have an insatiable appetite for stories about individuals who relentless pursue success. James Altucher’s podcasts are filled with such examples. One common thread through the stories is that most people have to go through failure to get there.

I equally enjoy hearing spiritual leaders present their simple formula for living abundantly. Deepak Chopra and Dad Vaswani emphasize the impact your thoughts have in creating your life.

A lot of the time I find these two worlds incompatible. How can we keep our minds clean and full of uplifting thoughts while whole heartedly experiencing our truth? How do we love and appreciate ourselves when we discover that yes we are sitting in judgement of all our feelings? I can be as intolerant of my own feelings as any of the naysayers I have finally left behind. Thank God, I am now surrounded by loved ones who call me out.

photo of Ashley Taylor by Nikki Page

When I come to an impassable moment, I often reach out to a life coach I have talked to for years. She is a saint! At times, I have needed someone to just hold my hand, but I have equally needed a business manager and a debate partner. She helps me make sure that my decisions are philosophically harmonious with who I want to be.

I trust her completely as a trusted sounding board and I enjoy pushing into my insatiable need to grow.

I want to share what my coach taught me this week. I recently read Alice Millers the Drama of the Gifted Child. This is a powerful book about how parents inevitably look to their children to satisfy their own emotional needs. I was dismayed by the soundness of her argument and the abundance of the proof in any play yard. I inevitable took a nose dive into self pity and anger . It wasn’t pretty. I was completely failing at maintaining a clean mind.

My coach helped me look at the experience differently. She asked me if I’d seen the movie Fast and Furious. Anger can be fun. Blowing up things is fun. It’s only when we censor them that we create sadness and dismay. By damping our emotions, we narrow the space to experience life at its fullest.

The game of life requires participation. We can scare or shame ourselves out of playing big, or we can choose to embrace opportunities. This is how we actually keep our minds clean. We allow life to pass through us joyfully.

The giant-souled among us can actually take extremely painful situations and practice forgiveness. They do not harbor anger and are able to participate in change. The Dalai Lama is not happy his beloved Tibet suffers, but he practices transforming this anger into love and forgiveness.

The Pope is being bombarded with criticism for speaking out against the environmental impact of fracking, but he takes this in the style of a great spiritual leader. He is not immune to frustration, but he is able to commit to participate in change. I would like to think he is amused by the hysterical.

Yesterday, I ran around trying to secure a studio space. I was rejected three times. I met four new people and I have four failures chalked up toward success.

I realize appreciation and opening up to the game of failure is where success and fulfillment live. I’m committed to enjoying the whole trip.

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