Striving to Fail

Matthew - Crozet, Virginia
Entered on March 25, 2009

I believe in failure: soul crushing, uncomfortable silence perpetuating, bank account emptying, high school girlfriend ending failure. I go on youtube to see guys get hit in the groin with a football, trampoline accidents and high speed motorcycle trick debacles. I live to be kicked in the teeth.

My greatest moments have also been my greatest failures. A 1981 pontiac trans am, black, t-tops and a yellow screaming eagle on the hood. The car that I had always wanted and I did own once. It never ran. It sat in my parents driveway, on blocks, the entire time I owned it and nearly killed two of my friends when we dropped the potentially functioning engine in. I have caught more shit for that vehicle than for any other I have owned, but I stand by the decision and wouldn’t change it if I was given the chance.

I pursued a Rhodes Scholarship for most of my college career; probably foolhardy from its inception, it cost many a late night doing extra work, hours in the gym and knocking on every door at Virginia Tech that might have concealed some advantage, some glimmer of hope. I missed part of a good friend’s funeral to attend my preliminary interview. I put into it everything I could muster. Then, without even a personalized email, I was rejected. “Dear applicant…”

Those failures are mine, they will be until I die and I suspect for some time afterwards. Those two and a multitude of others, are the moments and the decisions I have lived and lived again. They have taught me everything that I know about this world.

I see a lack of failure. I see the danger of a world in which everyone is a winner and everyone is above average. It is a world genetic explanation and one pill solutions. But that world steals our essential humanity from us and I cannot accept it. That attitude forgets that we cannot get back up, if we have not been knocked down and that it is our perseverance through hardship that allows us to prevail. We should not seek to shield ourselves or others from hardship or failure, because it is from that wellspring that our greatness shall eventually flow. I believe in failure because it is what creates the strength and the humility to achieve greatness in this life.