Setbacks

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
– C.S. Lewis

I’ve written at length about the sort of capacities one must develop to push, try, dare, and dream. I’ve spoken about the importance of dedication and defining success for yourself. Importantly, I’ve also elaborated on the absolute necessity of acceptance to find lasting happiness in life. If we were to imagine life events on a spectrum of surviving to thriving, this subject exists closest to surviving.

So, you’ve calculated an infallible plan, have you? You’ve worked this one through to it’s inevitable and gratifying conclusion? You summoned from within yourself the courage and ambition necessary to do things that are beyond most persons and you’ve powered down the path at high speed with complete disregard for every barrier along your way…

And then you hit a wall.

Though she’s certainly not the origin of the quote, my mother has always liked to say that, “life is what happens while you’re making plans”. Unfortunately, there’s truth in that. While a committed, passionate individual will better hold to a plan and chase it to completion, the reality is that sometimes things go awry. In fact, sometimes things go completely wrong. Sometimes we found ourselves beaten, bloody, and nearly without even the ability to crawl onward.

Before you do anything else, I urge you to practice acceptance. If you, today, find yourself in a situation where you cannot seem to see a light ahead and all you worked for is lost, grab acceptance. Grab onto your ability to embrace the present simply as it is. Your plans may have fallen apart. In fact, your entire approach may have been invalidated by whatever circumstances have befallen you. Perhaps everyone around you sees your failure and believes this is truly the end – but you’re still breathing.

And that really is the next step. After you’ve slowed your panic and taken a good look around – no matter how desperate things seem – you must now recognize that you are alive and breathing. Life may have attempted to snuff out your dreams and ambition, but you’re still here as if to spite it.

Now, if you really are bruised and beaten or simply exhausted beyond function, recognize your condition and take a step away to recover. You’ll be no use to yourself nor those around you if you endeavor to go on without rest. Likewise, you may be surprised to find how fully you can recover and reinvigorate your spirits with a short step away. Remember: there’s no failure in rest when necessary and reasonable; only giving up is fatal.

When you’ve taken the time you need and as you need – and there’s no guideline on how long that may be – it’s time to plan your next attack. Maybe you will find that you simply need to try again. Just remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result. Don’t take the same path too often if it consistently leads you to failure.

Finally, once you have taken the requisite time to rest and determined your next course of action, the time has come to rise up once more. Rise up again and again if you must! There is a Japanese proverb which I believe expresses my exact meaning:

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Thank you for your time.

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