On failure and optimism…


“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
-Mary Pickford, (in Reader’s Digest, 1979)

Things happen. That’s just the way it is. But at every point in time we have choices to make. We can choose to learn from our mistakes. We can choose to try again. If we were perfect, and never made mistakes, then how could we possibly learn? Our wisdom comes from our own experiences. Like the song says: “pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again!”
-Lissa Coffey

from today’s WisdomNews from Lissa Coffey

Growing up, particularly during my teens, I was always struck by my mother’s pessimism. If there were two sides to something she would invariably flip to the one whose sheen was tarnished… her glass was always half empty. She seethed with cynicism, though she felt that she was merely being a realist. Perhaps she felt she had earned the right. Born in 1918 in Eastern Europe, she has seen more atrocity over her decades there than most of us will see in our whole lives. And then there were her personal conundrums… more tragedy.

Her tantamount task in life was to burst my bubble… “Stop floating around in the ether… get your feet back down to the ground,” she would reprimand. I, on the other hand, was given the greatest teacher. Essentially, I was shown that no matter what happens in life, we persevere. Somehow we will put one foot in front of the other and make tracks. Or we lay down and die… physically or figuratively. And whether I enjoy the journey (or not) is entirely up to me.


1 thought on “On failure and optimism…

  1. Lin

    I don’t remember much about my mother (she died when I was 14 and was sickly during the years I had her in my life) but I remember that when she was well she was the most incurable optimist–and yet, like your mom, she had lived through various forms of hell during her life. She was always trying to hope and plan that something would happen and she did try to keep going–eventually life wore her down. My dad, on the other hand, was more of a pessimist but he was still a fighter and persevered no matter what. So what does that make me? Although I do struggle with chronic depression I find myself to be an inveterate optimist (to the point of infuriating my former boss whose nickname for me was Pollyanna). I figure as Howard Jones so aptly sung, “Things can only get better.” They say that optimists live longer–I sure hope that’s true! Anyway, I do like your post.

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