Paula Swenson

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

What Would YOU do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

In Art and Creativity, Business on July 16, 2009 at 11:43 am

This question has come into my life in at least 3 different forms in the past 15 days. It is not a new question, I have encountered it before, however recently I have not been able to answer it. I’m not normally a person who has difficulty making decisions. In fact, most of my friends and family consider me not only decisive, but downright impetuous! So I found myself puzzled that I could not answer this question. Had I stopped dreaming? Did I lack a sense of purpose? What had happened to my goals?

The first time the question appeared, I was thumbing through an old journal, I had jotted the question in the margin of a page, in quotes, obviously having just read it somewhere. Further down the margin were a few answers scrawled in tiny, almost illegible print. I squinted at them and saw 1) travel more 2) live abroad 3) ride a bicycle again.

Well, two out of three isn’t bad . . . I have been living abroad for almost exactly 2 years, and taking advantage of my new locations to travel and explore. The bicycle thing hasn’t worked out so well. although I bought a used bike this Spring, the combination of knee problems and a lot of time passing since I last rode a bike (more than 15 years) have conspired against me. After taking a pretty bad spill my second time out on the bike, I rather lost enthusiasm, and courage, for it.

So, realizing I had at least attempted everything on the list, I felt pretty good, and thought, OK what’s next? I drew a blank. I put it out of my mind until a week later, when the question popped up again, in an article I was reading. I stopped to ponder what my new answer would be. Again I drew a blank. Quite odd for me . . . slightly disturbed, I set the puzzle aside.

Then 3 days ago, there it was again, in a book I was using to teach an English lesson. Following the lesson I took myself to a cafe and ordered a cappuccino, got out my notebook, and tried to answer the question. A dozen things eventually came to mind, but none of them satisfied me. I realized that they were all old goals, things I had once wanted but outgrown in some way, as I lived my life. It occurred to me that reaching goals is a tricky business . . . I’m living the life I chose and I like it a lot. In essence I am doing ‘it’ – the thing I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail. Wow.

I still feel I would like to be able to answer the question again, but perhaps my understanding of the question has changed. Perhaps the new question is “Since I cannot truly fail, as long as I make an honest attempt, what I am going to do next?”

© Paula Swenson 2008
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