Superman’s Bad Day
This post really should be titled ‘The Power of #failure’, but that sounded too much like the title you’d see for some kind of wacky TV self-help show which you accidentally end up watching in those insomniac hours between night and morning. Plus I rather liked the photo, taken outside a museum in Berlin. The plaque next to the statue reads ‘Even Superman has bad days.’ How completely correct: even superheroes mess things up sometimes, and no doubt they are more well-rounded beings for it (well as much as you can be when you’re a cartoon character. Maybe they go from 2D to 3D).
I started thinking about the beneficial side of failures and flops when I was trying to get motivated to take on a 7ft punching bag at my first boxing class last week. I can’t take myself seriously whilst wearing boxing gloves, especially when the music playing is the Rocky theme tune, or ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ It’s fun though, and next week I’m thinking of trading in my normal exercise gear for some boxing shorts, and perhaps a sweat band. The thing about boxing is you have to be just a little bit angry. It doesn’t work if you go in all ‘Life’s a bunch of daisies’ –hit- ‘Everything is tiptop’ –wham. No, you have to find your Tyson. That punching bag has gotta pay for something. To get in the zone, I channel back into past disappointments and failures. This probably goes against medical/Oprah’s advice, live and let live etc, but what drives me forward- in boxing and just about everything I do- is a desire to learn from, but not repeat those past mistakes.
I remember when I was in a high school English class we were asked to remember a time when we were rejected or disappointed. Being a sensitive soul, I had my pen to the ready, brimming with memories of not getting the lead role in a school play, or embarrassing incidents in which I was the last picked for the softball team. Although upsetting at the time, these memories made brilliant fodder for my creative writing assignments. One girl piped up and said she couldn’t remember a time she’d been rejected. We were nearing the end of high school, maybe 17 or 18 by then, so I probably gave her a ‘honey, you haven’t lived yet’ look. Rejection hurts, but it’s like chicken pox. You’ve got to go through that discomfort young, because it’ll be a whole different level of pain if you strike it for the first time as an adult.
Some of my failures are just humorous, and provide laughter rather than #motivation in the fake boxing ring. I quite like cooking, and especially baking, but sometimes I don’t quite hit the Nigella nail on the head. When I threw a midwinter dinner party last year, my home-made bread and ample supply of mulled wine distracted nicely from the fact that the main course was a pile of flavourless mush. I also accidently invented ‘Dinosaur Surprise’ this past holiday season. What began as apricot flan which wouldn’t set, morphed into a very unappetisingly coloured dish, that could only be saved by covering it in cream and then turning the top into a little dinosaur diorama; completely with dinosaur lollies, marshmallow trees and sprinkles to resemble the grass. I thought it was brilliant, my mother could only mutter ‘Oh Freya’, and no doubt my sister’s boyfriend, who’d come to meet the family for the festive season, thought I was stark raving mad. ‘Dinosaur Surprise’ was the favourite dish of the evening, proving that a perceived failure may actually be a win.
I read an inspirational quote that said ‘If you haven’t failed at something in the last year, you haven’t extended yourself enough.’ Now, there’s attempting something challenging, and there’s bald faced stupidity, but I for one am always up for a challenge. Better to try and fail then sit safely and wonder; and it’s all good fuel for the boxing ring.