I had an interesting experience at work last week. Because of the serendipitous nature of life, it was perfectly reflected in the book I was reading. I often wonder if I’d recognize life’s meaning if I couldn’t connect my daily experiences to the deep truths I find in my beloved fantasy stories.
You know of my intense and abiding love for Robyn Peterman. In addition to her wacky and wise books, I love that she writes and publishes quickly enough to feed my addiction, and that her stories never fail to inspire my Muse. This week, I’m pondering book ten in the Hot Damned series, Fashionably Forever After, where the Devil gets his due, and it’s more HEA than eternal damnation. Turns out Satan is more misunderstood than malevolent. Who knew?
Back to what happened at work last week. In a nutshell, I was asked to arrange AV equipment for an important conference we were hosting. There were issues. I found a solution. My solution had never been tried before and was considered impossible. I had no idea it wasn’t possible, so I organized the fix and we had a great conference. I was lauded as the savior of the day and my ingenuity was celebrated as each presentation was given on equipment that should not have been available, but which was exploited to the fullest. Cool beans.
I’d love to say that I’m wildly inventive and exquisitely intelligent, and maybe I am, but this particular instance was more happenstance than brilliance. Because I had no idea my solution was impossible, I succeeded. It reminds me of my coffee cup that says, “What would we do if we knew we could not fail?” We’d procure A/V equipment.
But what else would I do if failure wasn’t an option? To answer this question, I need to turn to Satan himself, or, as he’s affectionately known by his nieces, “Uncle Fucker.” I so love the highly disturbed mind of Robyn Peterman. In Fashionably Forever After, Satan refuses to accept failure in his pursuit of his HEA. And in his lack of acceptance, in his absolute knowledge that he would not fail no matter what, he succeeded. And God (Satan’s brother), knows, I don’t have the confidence of the Devil, nor do I have the luxury of an indefinite future such as True Immortals, but maybe if I can “act as if”, I can achieve the same results. Hey, it could work, right?
Indeed, it could. When failure is not an option, we try. We ignore messages that tell us what we want to do is impossible, and if at first we don’t succeed, we try and try again. Sure, it’s better when we are blissfully unaware, ignorance being happiness and all. But it can also work if we give no heed to nay sayers who tell us our dreams are only fantasies. If we keep working, trying different solutions and opening our minds to thinking outside the box, we can often find the answers to life’s most pressing questions.
The key is to make like Winston Churchill and never, never, never give up. If the impossible is possible, then first failures are just initial obstacles to be overcome. What if Orville and Wilbur Wright gave up after the first few tries? Or Thomas Edison? Where would we be?
I think my first impulse is to give up when I don’t immediately succeed. Like when I go scuba diving. Every time I take a first dive on a multi-dive trip, I go down about 15 feet, freak out that I’m breathing underwater – that’s impossible -- shoot up to the surface, ripping my mask off and sucking in great lung-fuls of air, determined to get back on the boat and wait for the lunatics who chose to stay below. And then I laugh at my utter predictability. I gather myself and tell myself sternly (while bobbing on the surface, usually observed by a bemused dive master) that scuba equipment allows me to breathe underwater just fine and it’s okay to go back down. But I have to overcome my initial instinct to give up and endure sea sickness on the boat for an hour rather than facing my fear and trying again. I always go back down, but at that point it’s an act of will. Mind over matter.
So too with attempting new things with an attitude that failure is fleeting and success enduring. If we know we cannot fail, then setbacks are just part of the journey, and not the destination. No, the destination is glorious success, in whatever our endeavor may be.
So, whether we’re after an HEA or the procurement of equipment, if we approach our problems with a mindset that we cannot fail, then we will not. If we were blissfully unaware of possible disappointment, then we would keep going until we attained our personal Nirvana.
Once again, Robyn Peterman, philosopher extraordinaire, saves the day and shows us the way. What would I do without her and my beloved fantasy books? I would certainly fail.