Failing with Purpose

closeup photo of brown brick wall
Photo by ShonEjai on

Blood runs down my leg; it’s beginning to pool at my sock, mixing with the dirt and dust from a day filled with running and jumping. I let out a yell of frustration. “Aahhh! I hate this, why can’t I do it already?” The bike lies in a heap next to me on the asphalt where I fell off again for the hundredth time today. I throw curse words at the bike, ones that I shouldn’t know at the age of five but have somehow made it into my vocabulary. Spitting in my hand and rubbing it on the bloody spot on my knee I stand back up, pissed as hell and ready to go again.

Eventually, I learned how to ride a bike. I can’t tell you how many times I fell before I got it, and I can’t tell you how many times I fell after I learned. But what I can tell you is that at some point I became a badass at riding a bike. I could even do it with no hands, or with my eyes closed, which I don’t recommend. I can tell you that from falling over and over again in the process of learning to ride that bike, I became tougher and mentally stronger because I was no longer afraid to fall. I had already fallen a million times and miraculously got back up.

It seems to be that way with anything in life; I start with an idea of the thing I want to do, most times its nothing more extravagant than learning to ride a bike, which at the time was the most important thing in my life. Then it ends up being this incredibly difficult, and rewarding, life-changing process.

I have lapses where I forget how important failure is for growth, especially when my dream or the thing I am going after is something I have never done before. I forget that I have to learn what it takes to reach my goals, I have to learn what not to do, just as much as I have to learn, what to do.

I am learning and relearning every day that it isn’t necessarily about reaching the goals that I have set. What it is really about is Who I become in the process of achieving my goals. The daily grind, the failure that makes me bleed and cry — the failure that pushes back at me, screaming that I am going to die or be ridiculed for my attempts to reach my goals. That failure that is so terrifying is SO necessary for me to become the man that is a successful writer. Not the man that accidentally writes something good and can’t reproduce it ever again because I don’t know how I did it in the first place.
My goal of becoming a successful writer is the same as learning to ride a bike. There are going to be failures along the way; I am going to fail sometimes. I am going to struggle and ask myself if writing is really what I want to do. It’s in those times of doubt and failure that I have the choice to grow stronger or fall back and allow the giant brick wall in front of me to keep me from my dream. I read a quote last night that went like this.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture.

To me, this means; who am I willing to become to reach my goal?  I know I have this goal and this desire for a reason it is not an accident that I have this passion for writing. But am I willing to become the man that will run through any “Brick Wall?”  Time after time, even when the wall seems too big and strong.  Will my level of desire and determination make me the man who is unstoppable and able to move through anything even if it takes a lifetime? It is not a question I can answer in the definite for my life but is a question that I have answered yes to every morning for almost six months now. I am willing to do whatever it takes today to reach my goal. When tomorrow comes I hope that the work I put in today makes me the man that will answer Yes again, and get back up and run at that wall a little harder and a little faster.
Who I become in the process of chasing my dreams is the ultimate reward. Because when I stack up all those day’s, improving even the smallest amount, I will be the man I was created to be, and that is Failing with Purpose; That is Living with Purpose.

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Published by Matthew Whiteside

I am a writer, a storyteller, a yarn-spinning freakazoid. My life is full of two things today, lessons and blessings. I write fiction mostly but I also love to write about my life and the things I go through on a daily basis. Writing it out inspires and motivates me and that's why I do it. Plus if it does that for me maybe it will for someone else too.

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