Failure is good. And “love” is a verb.

October 29, 2010 at 12:49 am 1 comment

James McBride came and spoke to my school today.

Confession #1: I haven’t read The Color of Water.  (Though I did get it out of the library, and I am about three chapters into it.  And it is very good).

Confession #2: I almost didn’t go, because I found out that auditions for student film projects were tonight.  And I like auditions. 

But I decided to go. 

And he was marvelous.  He hadn’t prepared anything; just “talked from the heart”, as he said, but he said two things that especially stuck out to me.  I’ve already given them away in the title, I suppose.  But I love how he spent awhile trying to impress on us that failure is good

I’ve heard the message over and over.  And it makes so much sense, of course.  Not failure as in I just failed chemistry because I never bothered to go to class, but failure as in – well, I wrote something that wasn’t good enough to get published.  I tried to play basketball and I was unquestionably awful.  I spent a year working on a project that didn’t go anywhere. 

I, at least, feel pressured by the society to only have successes.  Who wants failures?  If you’re good at something, do it; don’t bother if you’re bad at it.  And that’s simply so backwards, because they only way we get good is to be bad.  Becca shared a quote from a dancer currently touring in Beauty and the Beast that I simply loved: “In order to be a public success, you must first be a public failure.” 

I remember Lambchop singing “You gotta be bad, before you can be good”, or something like that.  (Anyone else love that show?  And Charlie Horse’s Music Pizza Band?  But I digress.) 

We need to give ourselves the freedom to be bad.  To fail. 

And really, I’ve heard from so many people that they learned everything from their failures.  Successes don’t teach you much.

Failure is good because it means you stretched.  You tried.  And you learned. 

And I love that James McBride reminded me that it was okay; reminded me to give myself the freedom and grace to fail, and to forgive myself for the failures instead of beating myself up. 

Because have you noticed that all this may make sense on paper, but it’s really, really hard practically?  I hate learning new things that I’m not good at.  (Thank you, pride and fear).  I just don’t like failing and I don’t like being bad at anything.  But I’ll never learn if I don’t try!

The second point he threw out in a sentence at the very end: “Love isn’t just a noun.  It’s a verb.”  (that’s not the exact wording, because I wasn’t actually taking notes.  But you get the idea.)

So. True.

And he spent a little while bashing cynical people for being cynical.  Which I also loved.  Skepticism, he said, can be good, but cynicism just kills dreams.  And without dreams, you go nowhere. 

I like that message.  Pessimists and cynics annoy me.  If you want to be miserable, have at it, but don’t go ruining my life too, thankyouverymuch.  (That’s not a very graceful way to respond, I suppose.  I’m sorry.  And I can certainly be cynical and pessimistic, too.  But I can also see the roses in the thorn bush.) 

I love authors.  I love hearing them speak.  But I’ll confess: James McBride became infinitely cooler when I found out that he’d also won the Steven Sondheim award for his musical theatre compositions.  (!!)

And to top it off, my theatre professor told us that if we still had the programs from the last School of Theatre play we went to (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, and of course I still had the program) that we should keep them.  Why?  Only because it was directed by Susan Schulman.  Who happens to be an award-winning director and designer (even has a Tony nomination…), and, yeah, she’s on the Tony nomination committee now.  Which means she’s gone every weekend in NYC watching shows and ultimately nominating them and is pretty much ridiculously famous.

Do you think it’s illegal for a Communications student to sneak into the theatre building, storm office hours, and ask for an autograph??

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Entry filed under: college, wisdom.

i want to add to the beauty i was born in the wrong {fashion} decade

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. singamelody  |  October 31, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Wow, that’s really thought provoking. (not the part about wanting the autograph, that’s just exciting.)

    Oh, and I watched Shirley Lewis and Lambchops, and Charlie Horse, and Hush Puppy 🙂 But that’s not surprise…

    Reply

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