You Fail, You Learn, You Get Back Up Again

Not that far in the rear-view mirror, life approached me with a change. Turned out to be a dead-end on my travels, but I still felt the need to explore it. Even if it was just long enough to realize I needed to double-back to the previous crossroads. Life tosses all kinds of curveballs at us in our lifetimes. Sometimes, we just take the pitch – sometimes we swing for the fences – if you’ll pardon the baseball descriptive there. One of my favorite baseball players – Pete Rose – was once reported to have said, “you get exactly zero hits when you don’t swing the bat.” I’m not completely sure that Pete ever said any such thing, but its true. Unless you take a chance by swinging the bat, there will be no hits coming in your line score.

When I first joined the Air Force, I was naïve, unlearned, and completely ignorant of what I was capable of doing. My first “job” was working the base switchboard at night. I answered and connected phone calls in the over-night hours. Occasionally, I would have to call up the radio bridge for emergency issues on the runway. In this tole, I connected commanders together from their radios or their local digital telephone locations, as well as the command post. A function of that job was to keep track of these commanders during their day, and relay that information to the command post. Once, I dropped the Director of Operations off of an incoming bird-strike IFE (In-flight Emergency). I had to quickly reconnect him, as well as identify my operator number as well. He “visited” me in the small switchboard communications room afterwards. A two-star general knocked on my duty station’s door, strode past me, and sat down in my operator’s chair. I quietly closed the door, moved to stand in front of him, and stood at the position of attention.

“You messed up kid,” he quietly commented.

“Yes sir.”

“What happened?”

“My finger slipped when I was connecting the Base Commander to the communications bridge. The result was my disconnecting you. I apologize, sir. There is no excuse on my part, nothing but incompetence.”

“Sit down kid,” he motioned to the second controller’s chair, which was empty because it was the night hours. I sat down immediately, my eyes never leaving his. “You fucked up. That’s all. It happens. Try not to let it happen again. We all make mistakes; we all learn from them.” With that he got up, opened the door and closed it quietly behind him.

I would remember this moment when I had airmen who made mistakes on shift in the Sembach Command Post. Its not the mistake that is the issue. It’s a learning moment. Its when the mistake happens over and over again. That’s when there is a problem, and a training issue. I sure do wish people in today’s corporate environment would understand that. Firing people over a simple, first-time mistake rectifies nothing. There’s nothing served except your ego that you “fixed” the problem by terminating someone’s career.

All of that is nice, but how does this equate to Paganism and/or Druidry? Well, we make mistakes in our studies. We have errors of judgment in dealing with other people. We learn from those moments too. In one ritual that I was a part of – back in the Wiccan days, we were celebrating a full moon. We had a lot of candles that were lit. The five of us were in robes. The High Priestess decided to be a little playful and bent over the north candle. Flipping her robe up to reveal her bare rear-end, she exclaimed: “Check out this full moon!” We all chuckled at the levity of the moment, but when she pulled her robe upwards, part of her sleeve was directly over the candle, which set her robe on fire. After some shrieking and yelling, we put out her robe without her receiving any injuries. She had made a mistake…she had not practiced safety around an open flame, a practice that all of us had been taught from her on our first days within the coven. Luckily, it was only an embarrassing moment, and not an injurious one.

When I make mistakes, I tend to lay the blame at my own feet. All of it. Rarely do I share any of the blame. In my eyes, I should know better. I could have done better. The fault is all mine. I alone accept the blame. Except that isn’t always true. I have a bad habit of taking others’ blame and pulling it to myself, so as to protect them or shield them from the consequences. That’s great for martyrdom, but it doesn’t do a damn thing to rectify an issue going into the future. Everyone involved in an issue has to realize and accept their own measure of blame, if everyone is to learn. Otherwise, the issue happens over and over again. Soon, it becomes a visible pattern that others can see. Sometimes, the individual cannot see the forest for the trees. However, if there was someone who needed to share culpability in an issue…its not my responsibility to bring them to that understand. Mine is to deal with myself…learn what I can, make reparations where I can. I cannot and will not be responsible for the needs and necessary learning of others.

The good part in all of this? Well, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone learns from those mistakes. But everyone also succeeds. Our lives are not just mistakes and tragedies. We have successes and triumphs as well. There are lessons to learn there as well. Believe me, life is more than just living and breathing. Life is about existing, experiencing, learning, succeeding, and even failing. And failing does hurt. Its ok to sit in the path, rub your ass, and shed a few tears for failing. Its just as important to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and ignore any laughter at your missteps. Everyone fails…everyone gets back up too. The question of when and how…that’s left completely up to you.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on

One thought on “You Fail, You Learn, You Get Back Up Again

  1. A good post for all of us.

    I tend to overthink and beat myself up over mistakes; those are the things that come back to keep me up at night sometimes.

    I still do it too, but I’m getting better at giving myself a break for being human these days.


    Liked by 1 person

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