I think I may be a little late writing this post, except, maybe not. Maybe it’s better to write this a couple days after Black Friday, when the world loses its mind over shit it doesn’t need, and the day before Cyber Monday, when the world does the same, only online.
I would have written it on Thanksgiving, but I was too busy eating, everything. And then of course the day after Thanksgiving was not an option since I was super busy trampling the elderly and knifing people to save 40 bucks on a cell phone at Walmart.
As Melville said: “Ah, humanity.”
(If you can call that shit ‘human.’)
I’m grateful for a lot of things. The nanny, for example (AKA The Gift Descended Upon us From on High via Craigslist). My husband. My kids. Not having cancer. My home. My dogs. Bacon.
The standard stuff.
But you already know that. You gotta be a real asshole with some seriously limited perspective to not be grateful for the fact that some people love you and you aren’t suffering from terminal illness and you have a home and a Labrador with floppy ears and kids that think you’re alright.
Sometimes, of course, I am that real asshole with no perspective (and I whine and moan and cry because something isn’t going my way (OH POOR ME)), but mostly, as many of you know, I realize I’m lucky to have anything in my life, let alone the aforementioned bundles of goodness.
And maybe it’s for that reason that the thing I’m most grateful for, above all else, is the fact that I was once a total and complete failure.
I’m not trying to be cute. I’m not begging for compliments. I’m stating a fact. Four years ago I looked at my life and saw failure, in every direction. As a mother, wife, daughter, employee, friend, citizen of earth.
I tried to pull it off, I really did. But I couldn’t. I failed. One of the definitions of failure is “a state of inability to perform a normal function.” Yes, precisely. That was me.
And the “normal function” I was unable to perform was life.
Why was I a failure? Because I was maladjusted to life. Because I was immature, self-centered and full of fear. Because I relied on MYSELF, somehow not quite realizing I was the reason my life wasn’t working.
And for these reasons, I was a fucking drunk.
But I couldn’t admit it. So I blamed you and you and him and her and this and that until it damn near killed me.
Everybody talks so much about success like it’s the most important thing in life: Yay me! Go me! Look at these successes! And they’re all thankful for the way life has delivered them what they wanted. They’re grateful for having some neatly wrapped package of existence, all snug and comfortable and pretty. And for sure, that’s some good shit. Go team.
Maybe I’m just weird, but in my experience, the only real, lasting good in my life – the only solid perspective, lasting contentment, enduring peace or recurring joy – has been the result of failure, not success. My life changed when the agony of my existence became so thick I was forced to make a decision: change or die.
If there was a glimmer of success visible along any path of my life, I would have held on to that as proof of my own well-being, and I would not have changed. And I probably would have died.
But as it was I saw only disaster, so much so that even I couldn’t deny it, and upon that foundation of malfunction and catastrophe, a life was built, slowly, piece by piece, until it stands right now, firm and bright and beyond anything I could have imagined, and beyond anything success could have offered.
And so I owe it all to failure.
You, the fact that you read this, and the fact that I get to write.
And this life, all of it, a trip to Santa Barbara over Thanksgiving, when the world is celebrating the good, as it shines now, I celebrate the same, and love how it used to flicker dimly, in the dark recesses of a trembling mind, until it became all of this, and freedom.