“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” -Truman Capote
Every good story I know is packed with failure. It’s the struggle against terrible odds, clinging to hope, and finally grasping success that thrills us. What point Lord of the Rings if Frodo sauntered casually over to Mordor and plopped the ring into the fire, pausing only for elevenses? Who’d care if Luke Skywalker had the Force in spades, easily rescuing Princess Leia, and reconciling with his dad, who’d already rejected the dark side just ‘cuz?
When we’re babies, we get the urge to crawl before we have the coordination. We struggle to our hands and knees and rock back and forth. We face-plant often. But we stay with it, eventually going through the whole dang thing again learning to walk. Learning to ride a bike. Learning to read.
Yet somehow, as these successes build up, we forget the failures, the struggles. We begin to believe it should all come easily. We look around and see others who seem to never fail. They always catch the ball, get the girl, get the job. Their struggles are hidden and assumed non-existent. We envy them and judge ourselves; we even stop struggling fearing failure.
I am guilty of this. I have found myself thinking that there’s something wrong with me when I fail. As if there’s a world in which failure = wrong idea instead of simply wrong time, wrong effort, or not yet. Well, to be honest, sometimes it does mean wrong idea. But how do you know?
When is it time to give up? When is success at your fingertips, unknown to you in your despair after the most recent failure?
We don’t know. We never know until the end. Until Frodo, gasping and exhausted succeeds at destroying the ring. We need these stories of survival, overcoming of odds, and redemption. They feed our hope and remind us of why we keep trying to catch that ball and get that job. If failure is indeed the condiment that gives success its flavor, we’re living in a mighty tasty world. Dig in!
This is a response to the Daily Prompt – to see other responses, click here
images: “Struggle” by French photographer Robert Demachy c1904, The One Ring from Wikipedia