Tag Archives: life

Embrace Failure.

You took a chance.  You ignored everyone who told you not to.  You tightened your belt, clenched your fists, and believed with all your heart that you were going to make your dreams a reality.  Each day demanded your blood, sweat, and tears.

And then, finally, after having invested so much into your dream, you encounter your first major failure.  Your book is fundamentally flawed, the writing barely a step above novice.  Your business model is unsustainable.  You didn’t pass the exam.

The thought of your failure is overwhelming.  Your breathing is constricted, your chest throbs with dull pain, your knees wobble.  You remember all the people who you told of your inevitable success.  You’re going to collapse.  What will they think?  Your failure is a big, lighted sign announcing to the world that they were right all along not to believe in you.  You think about how you aren’t special.  You think about how you should’ve fallen in line with the rest of them, just as you were meant to.  

Your legs buckle and you hit the floor.  The pain distracts you for a moment, and for that you are thankful, but the emotions catch up quickly.  Your face rests in a puddle of fresh tears.  You tried, and you failed.  It’s over.  It’s all over.

I’m here to tell you it’s not over.  

Get up from the floor and stand up straight.  Wipe your face dry with your sleeve.  Breathe in as deep as you can.  Cold air rushes into your lungs like an avalanche.  

Embrace your failure.  Learn to respect failure.  Your failure is a badge of honor — wear it with pride.  You attempted something great.

You seem calmer now.  Good.  Think about your project.  What did you do wrong?  How can you improve?  What have you learned?  If the answers don’t come easy, keep thinking — they will come.  Study.  Research.  Question.  

Why?  

You still want this.

Spent too much time already, too much energy already.

Don’t let laziness rule your future.  Few succeed overnight.  Remember what motivated you in the first place.  Remember the life that awaits you if you stop now.  Don’t let yourself post-rationalize.  Visualize everything.  Don’t hold back.  You still want this dream, dammit.

Can’t handle another failure.

Every failure makes you better if you make an effort to learn from your mistakes.  Failures are not dead ends.  Failures are steps forward.  With each failure, you inch closer and closer to your goal.  If you have not succeeded, then you are moving closer.  Always remember that.

It’s not over until you decide that it is.  

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Video

Steve Jobs on Living Before You Die

Wanted to post this since I watch it from time to time for inspiration and motivation. His ideas match my own personal philosophy to a great extent. For anyone paying attention, I’ll be posting something original in the next day or two. Sorry for the delays – things are getting really busy since my return to Philadelphia.

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A beautiful quote from Miguel de Cervantes.

Busy evening, but I wanted to share this quote from the author of Don Quixote.

“I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.

Pain, misery, hunger….cruelty beyond belief.
I have heard the singing from taverns
and the moan from bundles of filth on the streets.
I have been a soldier and have seen my comrades fall in battle…
Or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.
I have held them in my arms in the final moment.
These were the men, who saw life as it is,
Yet they died despairing.
No glory, no gallant last words… only their eyes filled with confusion,
Whimpering the question,  

‘Why?’

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?
Perhaps to be too practical is madness.
To surrender dreams – this may be madness.
To seek treasure where there is only trash.
Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all:
To see life as it is, and not as it should be.”

To me, this sort of inspiration is particularly poignant because it is not blind to the realities of our existence. It runs in stark contrast to the popular quote, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Here, however, Miguel de Cervantes is inspired to think differently and to dream big after having been exposed to the morbid realities of war.

In other words, life can be depressing as hell. It is of no benefit to pretend that the universe will reward us, always. We should accept that life has the potential to be extraordinarily shitty, and we should use this dissatisfaction to shape a new, less risk-averse perspective. It is then that we will thrive.

Life hurts sometimes. It hurts a lot of the time. But you must keep dreaming.

Keep dreaming.

The Stars Don’t Shine in the City (Short Story)

Wrote this three years ago when I was in college.  I had just read about the fatal beating of an A-student in an inner city school in Chicago, and was deeply saddened by the event. It inspired me to write this. Hope you enjoy.

Jamal was coming home late.

His English teacher, Mr. Johnson, had delayed him after class to discuss his future.  Specifically, the possibility of a college education.  Even as Jamal approached the squalor of the projects, he allowed a small grin to creep up from the side of his mouth.  It was Mr. Johnson who had convinced Jamal to expect more from himself, who told him that he could be somebody, and so, in the midst of struggle, he began to rely heavily on his teacher for support.  He might even admit that he liked Mr. Johnson, and that was a rare thing.

Rarity defined Jamal – shambling under the weight of a stuffed backpack – his bookishness, his curiosity, all presented an unfamiliar image around these parts.  In a place where dreams were buried prematurely, his had survived for an unusually long time, enough to earn him the jealous scorn of peers who had relegated themselves to a life of small victories and even smaller expectations.

“Ay yo, check it – here comes that Steve Urkle lookin’ mothafucka.”

Jamal immediately recognized the slouching figures crowded ahead on the street corner.  Long ago, when they were kids, they used to play together.  Now they were entry-level thugs slinging drugs, thinking they were kings that had finally been given the crowns they rightfully deserved.  As Jamal walked past, he felt the violent burn of their judgments, a cigarette butt on the skin of his being, forcing him into a forward march, step-by-shameful-step.  He took care to remain submissive.  They would appreciate that.  Build up their ego a bit, he figured, and then they might ignore him.  In a way, Jamal understood their swagger.  To prosper on these streets demanded a different set of skills, and he didn’t blame them for what they did.  What use was an education when problems here were better solved at the smoking end of a pistol barrel or opiate pipe?  Intellectual sympathies notwithstanding, he pressed on past his would-be aggressors.

“Damn son, Mr. Johnson’s dick must taste like a mothafuckin’ haagen-daaz, huh?  Punk ass over there with him talkin’ bout all kinds of freaky shit, I bet.”  They began to orgasmically moan Mr. Johnson’s name: Damon.

Jamal kept his eyes glued to the pavement. Continue reading

You MUST believe that everything is going to be okay.

I had to get this off my chest today. I keep hearing people complain that they are failures, and that they won’t ever achieve their goals, speaking as if the universe itself conspires against them.

Look,
You have to believe in your inevitable success.

That’s not to say that you can simply laze around and eventually become an accomplished writer, entrepreneur, lawyer, etc., but assuming you actually go about doing everything you need to do, then there is nothing holding you back from success in the field of your choosing.

There are two reasons why you might disagree.

1) You think that you lack talent; that there is something innately lesser about the core of your being such that even hard work, persistence, and good practice, consistently summoned over the course of years, will not lead to success.

2) You think that life is a game of chance, and that nobody can predict how the dice will roll.

Now here’s two reasons why that’s bullshit. Continue reading