First off, I have to give props to the Truth and Cake lady. I was jealous when she showed up on freshly pressed with her pretty pictures and immediate thousand followers after only her second post. I’d started my blog unconcealing truth two months prior and had only a couple of random followers and then there she was with her cupcake eating pig, pretty face and beautiful words. Jealous. I watched to see what she’d put out there because staking a claim to truth is a big stake to claim. I wanted to be the definitive source of truth on the web. That’s the thing about truth – it’s truth whether you want it to be or not and nobody owns it. Very similar to love.
Rian‘s post titled Fail Harder is inspired reading and was the final bitch slap I needed to break me out of my funk. I’m coming off of two failures that are unprecedented in my life and I’ve been working out how to make sense of them in life and if possible, in the blog. I haven’t posted in a few weeks, I’ve been having difficulty writing my final paper for MPOD, I’ve been struggling putting together all of the pieces and writing a new policy at work, my life has been occurring as bleak and meandering, and even my recent vacation to St. Martin – while simply fabulous – did not “occur” that way for me. This blog began inside of one of the failures and it’s been a long and difficult sort of grieving and “making sense of” process. The other was simply unexpected and really threw me for a loop, threw my confidence off and made me start questioning who the hell I am to be writing about Truth or Love or Aletheia.
Which is why Rian’s post has unconcealed an attachment that I have. Failing harder is beautiful and describes what I’ve done, where I was stuck, where I’ve been invalidating myself. (It’s also pointed out that I’m very still attached to the limited perspective that there is a “self” to call my own). Failing harder is a universal truth, unconcealed Aletheia…sweet beautiful Love.
Briefly, I’ve played hard in two arenas, expecting to “win” or at least expecting to not fail. (As I type I can hear my ego still trying to find a way out of the first one, the first fail – “well, time will tell”, it says. “We won’t know for years”, it justifies.) Which is why the second fail, so immediate and definite, really brought up the shut-myself-down defense mechanism that I’ve perfected since Ms. Hein didn’t give me all the awards that I “deserved” in third grade.
I’m going to focus on this second fail for the remainder of this post as I still haven’t figured out how to be straight about the other fail without compromising other people’s space. While I am committed to full disclosure, no stone unturned, full revelation and display of my “self” for the betterment of our shared “Self” there are boundaries that I share with family, friends, co-workers, or other human beings in general where they may not be as open and willing to disclose.
Playing the game of Master’s student has been immense fun and I didn’t get into it even considering the scoreboard. I was so blown away when I saw the curriculum of the Master’s of Positive Organizational Development program at Case that I jumped on it immediately. Certainly there were a few hurdles to overcome and work out but the decision was immediate. It was why I never began an MBA program…I just wasn’t committed to what an MBA would develop me as. But this, man, this is who I already was and I’d get to claim to be a Master at it. This program would take the block of stone that I was up until that point and carve me up into David leaving me refined and powerful and able to cause change with not only profound logic and theory, but with results and data driven deliverables.
Somewhere around the middle of the program I made a crucial mistake and looked up at the scoreboard and I noticed I was winning. Other people made comments about grades they’d gotten on certain papers and I just kept my mouth shut. It was all A’s for me. I’d gotten a B on one paper but there were other assignments in the class that averaged the grade out to an A overall. Once I noticed the scoreboard all the machinery kicked into gear. The assignments started to take on more significance and I added meaning to all of my actions, more care was taken in delivering assignments the “right” way, and some of the experience of fun and love of learning for learning’s sake was worn away.
Fear slowly became the programming language of choice and it started to show up in my reality. The assignments seemed more difficult, managing “all of life” became more arduous, occurred as difficult, things started to show up in the space of life that hadn’t been there before. My created space that I lead a charmed life started to occur as a something to question rather than a place to come from. Now, a story in retrospect is always a little more dramatic than the occurring, so it didn’t necessarily seem all that bad at the time but there was definitely some undistinguished shaping of the future occurring. I continued trying to get back to Aletheia, had a harder time being Love present and experienced in the world. After all, I had all these things that I had to manage and control, and I had to perform well enough to maintain my A’s.
Failing harder wasn’t something I was planning. I hadn’t played the get all A’s game this well, this long, this hard probably since that third grade with Ms. Hein. I gave it a go on my bachelor’s degree long enough to prove that I still had what had always come easy to me and even had a couple of 4.0 quarters, made the dean’s list, and was happy to know that I could call it up if I really wanted to. But then the allure of fast cars and faster women took my focus away and I was cool with that.
This time was different though. This was like first grade, second grade, third grade. I wasn’t even concerned with the grades I would receive in the class, I just loved the learning. Ate it up…like truth and cake. When I noticed the scoreboard the experienced world shifted just so slightly based on that experience after third grade ended. The awards were handed out and I received plenty…I don’t remember which. Big ribbons for Math and Religion I believe. First Honors for everything else. And I was happy. But then, my Mom would tell me later, Ms. Hein told her that, “He could have gotten some more awards but we had to give some to the other kids.” That’s the way I remember it anyway. I was pi$$ed. What I made up that day was that there was no point in giving everything you had because you weren’t going to get what you deserved anyway.
It was a sort of failing hard by succeeding.
From that point forward my academic effort was lackluster at best. I’d approach it as a source of Power where I would only give as much effort as I wanted to. Always knowing that if I really wanted to I could be as brilliant as I wanted to and do A level work. I sabotaged much of my academic life through high school as a result of that decision made in the early summer after third grade (I made a lot of decisions that summer about people and the world…see other posts, not yet written). And as Tom Hanks says in Saving Private Ryan after he tells his squad that he’s an English teacher, “I just know that every man I kill the farther away from home I feel.” Only for me, it was that every time I didn’t give all of myself to any given challenge the farther away from Aletheia I was, the farther away from Self I was. As I’d give less effort, I’d get less recognition and I’d get more proof that I was right – that I’d never get what I deserved anyway.
Twisted what the human mind does to itself…social constructionism with two idiots. Your mind and your ego.
I’m an evolved space monkey though and I’d gotten over all of that. And I’ve given my all to these two endeavors. In my final semester of Master’s school on the only assignment that wasn’t a pretty much guaranteed A, I got a B.
Logically, I know truth. Life is empty and meaningless and it’s empty and meaningless that it’s empty and meaningless. Logic does not make any difference. Knowing something has no impact on being. Especially when I’m being “I knew I wouldn’t get what I deserve”. The beauty of truth, of love, of aletheia is that it isn’t something you can know. It’s only in experience, in unconcealing and revealing those hidden things that you can live closer from truth.
I failed. Hard. The truth and cake lady gives me permission. Tells me I should fail harder even. And from there I’m present to Love. I haven’t met her yet, but I know I’d Love Rian. But then, I love everybody. Especially my other Epic Fail.