Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Losing Face

How sad it is that we so seldom, if ever celebrate noble failures. It seems the winner's circle is the only location where laurels are placed on the fair heads of leaders and heroes. Yet, the truth is that none of us is born speaking our mother tongue; none of us is born feeding ourselves; none of us is born ready to stride upon our own Earth. We learn even the most basic skills for communication and survival by trial and error. We mimic sounds until we connect them with meanings and talk. We get more food on our outsides than our insides until we discover how to eat. We wriggle, wobble, and fall until we perambulate on our own. We learn by failing and correcting our mistakes.

Somewhere along the journey from childhood, we lose the facility to lose and take it in stride as a learning experience. Winning becomes the only acceptable outcome, and making a mistake becomes a crime punishable by the self-destruction of our self-image and self-worth. Humility is lost in the arrogance of the winner and our total focus on the downside. Fear of losing face overrides any accomplishments, and the silver medal becomes a millstone about the neck, instead of recognition of one's achievement. No failure is truly a total loss if we learn from it, and practice the noble art of losing face.


Losing Face

For anyone as arrogant as me,
A failure was a cataclysmic fall
An object lesson in humility,
A sad, heartbreaking, final curtain call.
That is, until the day I really failed,
And silently prepared to weep hot tears;
To grieve about my shining pride, impaled
Upon the lance of failure and of fears.
Twas then I learned a truth I can't deny:
Despite embarrassment, I still was me;
Despite chagrin and pain, I did not die.
I stumbled on a strange reality:
My greatest fear of all was losing face,
Until I learned to fail with humble grace.

Mick McKellar
January 2010

1 comment:

Laura Smyth, Publisher and Creative Director said...

An important observation and a valuable lesson I wish we were better at teaching to our kids.