The Story of Failure
Two days ago I had a pretty disastrous trail run. Disastrous for me, that is. Normally, I run for a good 6 miles or so on cardio days when the weather is nice and I am not working. I'm able to run at a good, steady pace and, by the end of the summer, I'm usually able to up that to 8-10 miles at an 8-9 minute mile. I enjoy exercise. I'm no muscle bound cover model, but I enjoy the cathartic release of stress through physical activity.
Two days ago I went out for my usual run. It was a gorgeous day that had, thankfully, proven the weatherman to be wrong in his forecast of gray skies and possible rain. It was warm and I needed a break from studying. It ended abruptly, however, as I realized about 1.5 miles in that I was not feeling well. My hands, lips, and legs started a familiar tingly feeling that begins when my blood sugar drops out. I'm just a touch hypoglycemic and I hadn't eaten enough that day...apparently. I walked the final half mile of my first lap through the preserve in defeat.
I have a little app that keeps track of my running progress. I normally share that run on my personal social media for a few reasons. My father is a runner, and running is a way that I connect with him. A lot of my family is made up of pretty active people. And, sure, it's a bit of a humblebrag. Hey! Look at my awesome running skills!
That day I did not share my run to social media. I drank a sports drink, got in my car, and headed home feeling more than a bit defeated.
We are reticent to showcase failure. When a spell goes the way we wanted it to, it becomes a story to tell, a piece of confirmation bias. We use these points of confirmation in order to weave a security blanket. I am good at this witch thing. I'm good at this Pagan thing. I'm a good runner. I'm good. But when things go wrong we don't share that. We call it failure and we hit the delete button on our record keeping apps and pretend like we just didn't go running that day. Called on account of rain.
However, it is important to share our failures. Possibly moreso than our triumphs. Why? Because it is better to be human than superhuman. When I read a book or blog post by the Super Witch of the moment recounting how many superpowers they have...I always want to hear the back story. I want to know how many times they tried to succeed, but their legs gave out and they simply couldn't go on. I want to know about the time that the practice they'd taken for granted didn't come through for them. I want to know the story of failure, because that's how they triumphed.
Yesterday I got back into my running shoes and went back to that trail after having eaten how I know I should. With determination and a conquering spirit, I completed my 6 mile run in my best time this year.
Pretending like we don't take our practice for granted doesn't help anyone. The poet writes 100 poems to get 1 that's halfway decent. The artist paints 100 paintings before they find one they're ready to show. The runner can run 100 miles, but they can just as easily trip on mile 2.
Showcasing our setbacks is a way to lift one another up. Sure, I flubbed one run this year, but I kicked its ass the next day. That's a better story. That's a more realistic story. That's the story I'd prefer to hear.
Love and Lyte,