Achieving Mediocrity II
Locating Failure, and then Adjusting Slightly Upwards
Which brings us to the, “How to…”
Let’s start with failure. So often people shy from failure, or are so preoccupied in shunning it, or ‘distancing’ themselves from failure, that they never really stop to take a good look at it. If this sounds like you, then there are a lot of surprises in store.
The first surprise is that most of the people you may categorize as failures, really aren’t very good at it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as many people are not very good at anything. That said though, most failures you will see suffer for their failures, but have never really explored or exploited its opportunities. They latch onto their little thread of failure and ride it in as hidebound manner as any successful type might, except to their dismal ends. They see problems and enemies everywhere. They worry about what happened before, or what might happen again. They are constantly afraid of being ‘found out’. They are hidebound, close-minded, stuffy, stilted, puffed up, snooty, completely paranoid, worn-out from excessive posturing, and possessed by envy.
A successful failure embraces what they are! They turn a blind eye to difficulties. They see opportunities everywhere. (Because there are!) They admit to no limitations. (Because there aren’t!) Everywhere is a bowl of cherries. They act like a complete fool! and are nobody’s victim. They don’t ask the government’s help. They are free of envy. And they are just fine on their own, thank you. Though they’ll certainly take whatever’s offered, because they are not proud! The best failures don’t ask anybody for anything, because a good failure lives in the now. And right now, they’re still breathing, so anything could happen!
A good failure just trundles on, oblivious, explaining every setback as at worst a detour, and at best, a fortunate intervention. Because life is on the failure’s side, and the failure sees himself in the lead position because he is alive! Always! …while a lot of things aren’t. Because the very successful failure bumbles along, “forgetting, mislaying, losing, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing”… all the while engaging, cooperating, chatting, visiting, and doing surprising things! In short, fully engaged in living a charmed existence. For it is only sound reasoning to presume that a true failure leads a charmed existence. Because what other rational could explain their continued existence? If there is anyone who fully embraces the presence of God, it is the fool and the failure. And a good failure will bless his charmed existence and not embrace any golden calves. In this respect, the true failure is faithful and monogamous – a near saint.
But it is very hard to fail at everything and yet not to have found a little success at something. That’s just the way it is! And it is these small successes which your common, garden variety failure quilts into a livelihood.
The true failure lives a small existence, but often in the midst of thriving success. Successful people have an incredible need for failures all around themselves, and they have the money to pay for it. They hire and delegate and presume upon supernumeraries all over the place. All of which creates a thriving market for affable supernumeraries, a position for which the failure and his persona the ‘fool’ is eminently qualified.
Another aspect of failure many people do not recognize is that it is an enduring position. A comic, who passed through town, shared that she made up for the breaks in her career by working as a lowly aid to the disabled. “Because they will ‘always hire you’”. A good failure just goes on and on like the Eveready Bunny – the world, as it is, displays a continuing need for them.
Failures are like the little beetle who captures a little water from the morning dew as condensate on his wings, a little water from the vegetation he chews, and quite some protection from the thick carapace he labors under as he trudges around under a blistering desert sun where few others can live. The failure locates a place of little or no competition, and finds a way to make themselves comfortable, living on God’s bounty. They arrange their modest existence well away from the frenetic world of successes. Whenever the successful get too close, so as to oppress them, they make quite a show of their failures to drive the predatory successful away. “No money to be made here!” The successful shriek. And it works well. The successful can’t seem to distance themselves from failure quickly enough. And in this way, failures share many of the same defenses as the skunk or our small, unsung beetle.
Whenever a successful failure speaks, it’s usually with humor, because humor is idiosyncratic and subversive. Most humor in one way or another utilizes the banana peel – to pratfall the predatory successful. Success is reiterative, and vulnerable to the vagaries of life as a machine. Whereas a failure’s humor and persona is as agile as a cat, and all the more reason for failures to employ it.
A real failure can be quite a funny and engaging character. Most good stories employ them. But if you would rather hear a person blow about themselves all day, in a continual, reiterative manner, then you’d be better to pick the successful for a drinking companion, or get hired by some high powered firm. A failure doesn’t much like to talk about themselves, except in a self-deprecating manner, so as to add a little flourish to their stink. They’d much rather the spotlight shown elsewhere… perhaps on the scenery chewing success! All they would really like is your respect.
Which, unfortunately, is hard to come by – unless we’re on the same page here.
Which is why I suggest locating failure – find that inner fool! – and then just back yourself off a bit, until you have found just that level of income and respect necessary for your comfort – but not a jot more. Don’t let those lunatic over-achievers grind you down, or shut you up! Leave yourself open to life, and parade your failures and your mediocrity – don that fool’s cap and bells – capture a little of that morning dew, sniff that morning air, gaze out upon that great blue horizon! and motor on. The world is yours.
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