Monday, May 27, 2013

The fool kept trying

About a year or more ago, I was at a Keb’ Mo’ concert at the Birchmere when some mouthy, seemingly drunk woman up front called out, “I love you, Keb’ Mo’.” He laughed and replied, “You sure wouldn’t if you knew me.”

You wouldn’t love me if you knew me . . . isn’t that something we all think? While I may wonder what I’ve done to deserve someone’s distain, I equally wonder what I’ve done to deserve anyone’s love or admiration. Maybe both distain and admiration are unmerited.

And I’m not easy on myself, see my glaring failures in bright lights. Failed at the marriage big time. Failed to forge a real career path. Failed to find any success in the lucrative writing-for-fun-and-profit world. Failed in the furniture redo market—I sand and paint and reupholster, get lots of praise, yet end up donating the furniture because I can’t sell it. Failed in the concert promotion business—just this past week, I had a great performer, did all the PR, contacted everyone I know multiple times, yet could not sell seats. I’m tired of trying so doggone hard, working until my fingers are bleeding (not kidding) with little success to show for all the effort. Is all of this perceived failure God’s way of keeping me humble? It’s working really well, Lord. Trust me. I could be veering toward humiliation. Perhaps I should just stop trying.

But no, I’m not smart enough to stop trying. If I fail, I just try again, like a demented energizer bunny without a lick of sense. Winston Churchill said: “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I forge ahead naively, thinking it will be different next time. I give a batch of furniture away and then go to the flea market and buy more, believing somehow this next batch will sell like hotcakes. I write and write and start formulating a plan for a book that’s a collection of short stories, unified by theme of a small town on the Bay in the 1960s, and it becomes a novel in the style of Olive Kitteridge. Occasionally I’m distracted by thoughts that maybe, somewhere, there really is a guy out there for me and maybe marriage could work the next time.

So I try, I fail, and foolishly I try again. Perhaps, in the end, all of these defeats will add up to one stupendous victory—the fool kept trying. That's what I want on my tombstone—the fool kept trying. And exactly what does stupendous mean? Does it have something to do with stupid?

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