Turn the ache of failure into growth, creativity, compassion.
In 2016, a failed attempt at living with another human meant moving away from the Twin Cities, where I had lived for nearly twenty years, and back to my hometown of Mantorville, MN after being away over half of my life. In the last two years, I have created a situation in which I have a safe, secure, affordable home and a job which is challenging, rewarding, and well paying. I'm secure and stable again, and also still very much homesick for my friends and the hum of the Cities. As with most things, "good" and "bad" coexist.
For "good" and "bad," I've been telling stories my whole life. My creative storytelling began in here in Mantorville and my poetry writing began here 30+ years later. Over the years, I've used journaling to navigate challenging periods of life. I've always kept those journal entries private and have multiple plans in place for their disposal upon my death! This winter, as the days got shorter, I started writing in a new way. I took all the "bad" emotions I had and started writing notes to communicate and heal past failures.
Writing journals, short stories, essays, grants, budgets, plans, and emails had always come quite naturally to me. Poetry, on the other hand, had been on my list of failures.
Even so, as 2018 and my 30s came to a close, at a point where I felt both inspired and isolated at the same time, those notes about failure turned into poems. I wrote poems not really by my own choosing, but by something outside of me, guiding me through one, two, three, and then twelve poems. And, after the third, I was guided to stop writing about failure and instead write about promise and possibility.
I never knew how I was going to share these poems, or if I even would.
When I did share with those close to me, it felt so natural and I saw that people were impacted by reading them - they started discussion, they created connections, they reduced isolation, they inspired creativity. So, now, after years of keeping my writing private, I'm ready to share. I'm willing to risk another failure in order to tell my story, allow my longing for home to have a purpose, and, hopefully, inspire others to take risks, too.
I've always written when the ache has been great, but being dedicated to this writing project has encouraged me to write a new story about my failures. It also reminded me that failure is not permanent - sometimes things fail because it's just not the right time, sometimes things fail because it's not the right project, sometimes things fail because more perspective needs to be gained, and sometimes things fail because more skills need to be learned.
Failures are things/actions that haven't gone as planned - beings/people are not failures. In fact, if we can take the ache of failure and turn it into growth, creativity, compassion, our humanity expands.
© 2019 Kristin Perry