The Field Beyond Failure
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there…” Rumi
Remember when you were a kid and you believed in Santa and Superman and the Tooth Fairy? Remember when, one by one, you realized that each of these entities had a spirit of truth, but did not actually exist in reality. Remember how you were cool with it, because it made you feel like you discovered a secret. Well, welcome to my field beyond failure.
Nothing in life has ever been quite as real to me as Success and Failure. Success is a sassy blond, like Marilyn Monroe, who purrs when she talks and is desired by all. Diamonds are her best friend and she dies young and immortal. Failure, on the other hand, is falling from grace like Big Edie in Grey Gardens, living in squalor and isolation for decades, surrounded by cats, fleas and raccoons. Both of these legendary women have been very real to me for a very long time. They’ve danced around me, seductive and haunting, celebrating or mocking my choices, guiding my life with an invisible hand.
I’m guessing that you have some version of these two characters in your life as well.
These ladies locked me in a wicked dance. They were born from my parents values, dreams and nightmares. They shape-shifted over time. Success became a modern billionaire like Sarah Blakely or Whitney Wolfe. Failure became a composite of every sad story in the media about a woman who lost her looks, her health or her sanity. I climbed hard and fast towards ideals that were wrapped in misguided truth and surreal reality, trying desperately to avoid a life less than extraordinary.
Then the unimaginable happened. I achieved the biggest love, the best job, the most beautiful life that I could possible want. I felt like I had arrived. I made it to the top. I was invincible. And then, in an instant, I was ejected from all of it. I felt myself falling harder and faster towards a bottomless pit of heartache and despair. Nothing to hold on to. Nothing to save me. And I fell and I fell and I fell…until I realized, I wasn’t actually falling.
There is no Santa Clause, Superman or Tooth Fairy.
My relentless striving and epic suffering were made possible by my belief that my worth is measured by how hard I work, how much money I make, my sex appeal, and the accomplishment of my goals. Anything less than perfect was unacceptable. My freedom is discovering the secret that my value is inherent. I am gifted, beautiful and powerful. I have the capacity to dispel the illusion of Failure and Success and redefine how I want to live.
You can’t fail if you don’t believe in Failure.
In a recent grief-stricken moment, I was retelling the story of my Failure to a friend and he said, “So, it didn’t turn out the way that you wanted.”
So simple. So easy. So true.
What if our ideas about Success and Failure are nothing more than getting what we want or not getting what we want? Desire is a bitch, obviously. We want what we want. And loss hurts like hell. Nobody wants to give up their favorite toy to the kid next door. But, at the end of the day, what if it’s just fulfilled or unfulfilled desire? What if it’s just your hand reaching for the cookie jar and finding it empty or full? Is that such a big deal, really? Do you want it to be such a big deal? I don’t.
What I want is to stop being so hard on myself. I want to love myself more fully and deeply. I want to grow and expand. I want to live with intention, humility, selflessness, and service. I want to feel like I took advantage of everything that the planet had to offer and that I cultivated as much appreciation, gratitude, harmony and joy as I possible could. I want to be remembered as someone who was true to herself and inspired others to be true to themselves, too.
And if I don’t get all of the things that I want, I want to be cool with that, too. I want to stand out in that field, beyond Success and Failure, and realize that I am still complete. I am enough.
“…when the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” Rumi