Welcome to my blog. What is it? It’s an oasis. An oasis from what? From failure. Please let me explain by way of a little story.
In the spring of 1989, the Senior Class of Chillicothe High School in my home town voted me the Most Likely to Succeed. Personally I was hoping for the Class' Funniest Person but I'm pretty sure I wasn't even in the running for that. So Most Likely to Succeed it was. How did that prediction turn out? Twenty some years later…ehhhh not so much. Why not? I’ll get to that in another post. Suffice it to say that I quit the career by which I was supposed achieve all of that “success”. And here I am starting a blog instead. Yay, that must be the road to instant success. Or moving back into my mom’s house. Or both?
Well, if I couldn't be successful, does that make me, by default, a failure? What exactly defines failure? Is it simply the lack of success? Is it synonymous with unsuccessful? As I look at my life and start this blog, those definitions become critical. I'm not going to discuss what the definition of a success is -- partly because I don't feel like it, but mainly because I don't feel qualified to talk about success. Besides, open up a new tab in your browser and in your search engine type “failure”. After you scroll past the Dictionary websites and their definitions (by the way my browser’s first hits all state the definition as “A lack of success”), you’ll find many a website that match the query “Fail” or “Failure”. But try each link, and within a few clicks and scrolls it is very apparent that each site is meant to inspire, teach, or help. Try other sources, too. TED talks, Youtube, and the self-help section of the bookstore all teach you about finding success from failure.
My blog? Nope, this here website is all about failure. Whoo-boy, now that's a pretty tantalizing hook, huh? But listen, I think it's time for real talk about failing. But not in the sense most people and websites have tried. Most people might say you have to know failure to be able to understand success. It's everywhere. It's the subject of those "Successory" inspirational poster quotes.
"Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts." -- Winston Churchill:
"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly" -- Robert F. Kennedy
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" -- Thomas A. Edison
"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement" -- C.S. Lewis.
You see, the goal of this blog is not to inspire people to rise from their failures. This is more to explore the failures themselves, to explore types of failure: personal, professional, romantic, economic, athletic, anything. You'll notice the name and logo of this blog. My own midlife crisis grew from facing my own sense of failure. It raised the question as to whether or not I was a failure at all. My friends and family all tell me I am NOT a failure but here’s my take: I most certainly am. But I named the site "Midlife Oasis". And if you look closely at the logo, it also says "LIFE Oasis"–all ages welcome. But does that imply it's a place to find redemption or success from failure? Is it a garden for rebirth?
Again nope. This is an oasis, a way-station, a place to stop along life’s seemingly endless journey fraught with its many failures. It is a place for travelers to find refuge and replenish supplies. It is possibly (hopefully, please) a gathering point of like-minded nomads who themselves need a break from the unforgiving and relentless desert we call life. And as we meet in this oasis, maybe, just maybe we can exchange news, ideas, goods or services.
I do not offer solutions. Part of my reasoning for starting this and writing this is that I found myself in a place in life where for the first time I had no answers. No ideas. No avenues. No options. I went from being at the pinnacle of control (and seeming success) to someone lost in the desert, completely subject to the figurative elements, no idea which way to go, every direction looking hopeless.
With this blog think of me as the permanent resident of this oasis, maybe the merchant who runs the trading post. Inside my small but well-decorated tent, any traveler is welcome. They can restore themselves, water their animals, rest, trade stories, or just listen. If you come here, please browse, but please note: any abusive traveler will banished. Berating other nomads will not be tolerated. Salty language (i.e. swearing) is accepted and is in fact my native tongue, but words of hate, bigotry, or intolerance of others will be turned back into the desert wilds. The currency at this marketplace will be your stories of failure. Any story will be legal tender. Those with lessons of redemption may get a higher exchange rate, but such lessons are not required. This trading post doesn't require your stories have a moral. They need not be inspiring. Oh but certainly they can be. They may even be heartwarming or inspiring. Or they may be horrendous and soul-crushing. Uniqueness will always have barter power here, and humor is always welcome. A disclaimer though. Please do try not to make it just a bitch-fest. Just complaining about missing the finale of Dancing With The Real Top House-Flipping Pawnbrokers™ will not command much of a price in this marketplace.
What's the point? If it's not a place to inspire or learn from other people's failures, why bother writing them down? Good questions. I'm not saying we CANNOT learn from these tales or be inspired. I'm just saying that learning a lesson does not have to be the only point of your stories. I want to hear about any kind of failure, educational or not. We are here to explore what failure is. How does it differ from person to person, situation to situation. I hope to amass story upon story so all of us can see patterns. Some person's failure may be another person's success, so just how do we define failure? And in doing so, perhaps in exchanging these stories at our little desert trading post, we can be better for it in the end. What will command value in this marketplace is insight. Even if your story has no moral, no cautionary tale for the rest of us, if you can lend your insight we will be in your debt. It might just be a better understanding of yourself, life, the universe, anything but all from a foundation originating in failure.
I have no idea if this will work. I'm pretty convinced already that a blog about failure is going to fail, but eh, such is the state of my psyche.
Welcome to my Midlife Crisis...er, um...Oasis, weary traveler and fellow failer. Please rest. Enjoy some entertainment, won’t you? Care for your pack animals, and join us for talk and nourishment, but mostly talk.