"What have you failed at?"
I was recently asked that question and it had about as much context as I've given to you.
"Well, most creative people have to have failed at something before they find success."
There's the context. Found it.
I thought that was interesting, mostly because I've never thought about it before. I know the sayings about failures building character and preparing us for the successes ahead and stuff, but I've never thought about my own failures as the plot points on the road to a successful finish.
I've failed quite a bit and I'm not just talking about my college Spanish classes. When I was in high school, I was a student director of the fine arts program at my church. I remember one summer, we didn't do a big musical as we had the previous three years, instead doing two smaller plays. One was the director's piece and one was mine. Basically, they told the same story just in two different ways: The director's was more a more literal telling and mine was more...uh...abstract. I thought to myself, "why aren't we doing interesting things like what we see on awards shows?" (remember that this was around 2000, when the VMAs were still exciting and creative) So I created this "play," about half an hour in length, using very little dialogue and all interpretive dance. We wore flashy colors and tried to tell this story using something that proved to be way way way too abstract for the southern conservative audience that favored straight-forward story telling and no dancing. (it's a sin apparently to some) So myself and my fellow dancing sinners failed. Big time.
That was the sort of thing that bugged me, not only because it failed but because I felt like I really could have done it right had I had the chance. I had this big dream but wasn't old enough or experienced enough to make it happen the way it should have. Had I done the exact same thing two or three years later, it would have been solid. (still sinful, but solid)
I've never let that experience go either. I've held onto that failure and the knowledge that if I'd just waited, it would have been a success. The timing wasn't right. Has that shaped the way I strive for success now? Perhaps subconsciously. More than anything, I've held onto the fact that people should be allowed to dance wherever they want, something I believe firmly to this day and try to put into practice in store aisles, on street corners or on empty subway cars.
So I know our failures shape our successes and as much fun as thinking back on all the times I've failed has been, I'm gonna choose to look at today instead. Plus, if you want to read all about my failures, you'll just have to read it in me memoir.