Closing my eyes, sitting in stillness, and letting this notion of failure come to rest in my heart, I feel an ache in my chest and a tear on my cheek as I connect with a fear that defines so much of who I am – who we are.

We have afforded this word, this concept, more power over our actions than it deserves, and I am writing today with the intention to take some of that power back.

Failure has come to denote such a horrible thing that some schooling systems no longer allow it to be “done” to children. In these systems, school children move forward from grade to grade whether they meet the recommended achievement levels or not – and inevitably, those who were not ready to progress will most likely fall further and further behind.

I touch upon this policy as an illustration of how the lesson that “Failing is horrible fate” is subtly masked by an approach that functions to allow everyone to feel like they are successful.  A much more empowering approach to lessons of success and failure is cultivating acceptance around the inevitability of both – and removing any aspect of self-worth from the equation.

Arguments I have heard against cultivating an acceptance of failure tend to be based upon the fear that people will consequently become complacent, lazy, unproductive slobs; people won’t work hard or push the limits of their capabilities because they will not have a value for the success that may stem from this effort.

I cannot say that this fear will not come to fruition through the softening and shifting of the connotation of failure, but, at the moment, I prefer it to the fear-induced paralysis that pervades the creativity and expression of this culture. I find so many people don’t sing, dance, paint, draw, perform, write, play music, play sports, take pictures or do yoga because they believe they can’t because somehow, somewhere along the way, not being able to staying in key or touch ones toes came to be associated with a complete inability.  A level of proficiency, only possible for most through years of practice, seems to have become a prerequisite to engagement for many activities – creative pursuits, in particular.

I’ve come to this exploration of failure because, in reflection, I have (thus far) failed to do what I intended with my blog. I planned to post once a week – regularly, but not so often that reading all my posts became a burden.

Over the years, I’ve been told I write beautiful sentences, that my writing keeps people engaged (and sometimes laughing out loud), and that I have a way of placing words that draws forth emotion in my reader. As I bring my heart to bare upon the page (screen), I bring clarity of intention to my thoughts, words and actions – and offer the similar opportunities for clarification to my reader.

I have failed (thus far) to be a regular blogger, and when I reflect on what writing brings to my life – and what others have conveyed to me that my writing brings to their lives, I feel sad about my failure, but, in the same space, I am grateful for the opportunity to move towards being less impacted and less defined by failure – as by success.  And, to close, I offer that perhaps what is most important is not whether we failure or succeed but rather that we continue to believe in the beauty of what we have to offer in this world and keep to stepping up – after every failure and fall – to offer it.

Wage Peace, by Judyth Hill


One of my teachers (Marita Wieser) passed this beautiful poem on to me.  I read it in my classes sometimes, and whenever I do, I am usually asked for a copy. I’ve posted it here so I can easily direct people to it.

Wage Peace
By Judyth Hill

Wage Peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and fresh mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in 3 languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the word seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.