08 September, 2011

Analogizing Failure: A Not-a-Love Story

Like all writers, I'm an expert procrastinator. We employ tricks and self-imposed psychological blackmail to force ourselves into compliance with our better natures. Thus, one of the many reasons I began this virtual exhibit of wayward communiqu├ęs (err, blog) was to commit myself to writing at least one entry per day. Yesterday was day three, and yesterday I wrote nothing. Yesterday, I failed.

Well, that's not entirely true. I did write yesterday—the results simply did not have enough polished form to make their way to the digisphere. I spent quite a while, actually, constructing notes for an idea that I knew was overly ambitious for a single day's work, but it was interesting to me so I pursued it anyway. Still, I could have stepped aside to concoct something else, something smaller, less complex, in order to meet my benchmark. I didn't. Even as the night stretched out before me and I became aware that I'd soon be slumbering, I regarded the "New Post" button with disdain and resolved to spend the morning—the next morning, right now—writing about not writing. About failing to meet my own expectations. About failure in general.

But acknowledging failure and then writing about it in pithy tones of self-recrimination doesn't erase the fact that I knew I was going to fail if I continued on that train of thought and bought a ticket anyway. Failure has, indeed, become something of a personal companion at this point in my life, or my perception of it, in any case. I feel its wispy tentacles of judgment and expectation encircling the limbs of my thwarted ambition at every turn, and instead of fighting them off—hacking limb by limb this emotional Leviathan's insatiable urges—I succumb, acquiesce to what feels like the inevitable. And endear another failure to my raging discontent.

What's the dilly, yo? I know better, but as yet cannot bridge the abyss between intellectual understanding and emotional application. Everyday obligations now overwhelm me with a paralyzing sense of dread so that even the most banal of actions teeters on the platform of failure. The theory that I refrain from participating for fear of failure would hold water if I did not regard non-action as its own particular, humiliating brand of the stuff. I've felt like a phantom regarding life from afar for a few years now, ever since the chronic pain that I endure sank its venom into the sensory organs of my social identity. Friends, lovers, jobs lost, family fretting and estranged, restraints placed on even the most fulfilling aspects of my nature. So perhaps I've come to regard failure like some worn and moth-eaten pair of sweats, soft and familiar, comforting even as they fall quietly to pieces—familiar territory.

I've never handled expectation very well. I often rebel against what I feel is unfair, condescending, or just plain presumptuous, even to the point of moderate self-destruction. Indeed, I've taken "I'm not going to do something just because you want me to" beyond absurdity, but that seems another bankrupt building project in my crumbled edifice of personal struggle. Condemning my behavior as stupid and childish often resounds from deep within me a bratty and shrill, "So what?"

Still, the amount of things I firmly suck at surpasses my failure quote beyond what even I am comfortable with. I seem to fail at broad and overarching duties such as taking care of myself, paying bills, finding employment, cleaning, returning phone calls, eating on a daily basis, romance, and sleeping, as well as other things of seemingly minor import, like First Person Shooters, billiards, successful Google searches, social networking, napping, recycling, casual conversation, ordering food in restaurants, and writing blogs.

Heidegger talks about the inauthentic self, how curiosity (among other things) leads to one flitting unfocused from one subject to the next and as such distances oneself from the true state of one's being. I wonder if I've gone too far adrift, allowed myself to become caught in the current of tides I was, at the time, not strong enough to fight against, ensnared by the undertow of my life's sudden collapse these three years past. I feel I can no longer distinguish the difference between the sight of solid land and the gossamer hues of a mirage. How does one usurp the overwhelming embrace of what one feels to implement the vital needs in what one knows? I'm all suspension wires and no bridge—how to build a foundation without the bedrock?

How can I stop failing at this thing called life?

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