Try, Try Again

Have you ever failed at something? Does it haunt you? Did you learn valuable lessons when it knocked you down?

When I was growing up, I spent my days on horseback riding hunters and jumpers. I spent weekends going over fences and I have had a horse stop in front of a jump more times that I can remember. I have literally gone over the head of a horse dozens of time. Each time, my parents would tell me to get back up and do it again. Thing is, if I didn’t, I might never have gotten on another horse. You see, when we fail, or make a mistake, it’s important, to get right back up and ride again!

Seems to me, in a man’s world, men are allowed to fail and dust themselves off, and move on without much critisism. However, when a woman makes a mistake, it is sometimes fatal.

In the recently 2019 movie, “Captain Marvel” the female character is allowed to fail, is haunted by mistakes she has made in the past, and learns what lapse of judgment she had in trusting the wrong people. These are all essential elements for not only a strong and powerful, independent woman, but a resiliant human being who is not afraid of making the occasional mistakes and learning and growing from it.

However, in the age of “Girl Power” it seems women these days want to be seen as flawless and infallible. Why? As humans we are all capable of huge mistakes. Life is not a continuous series of victory after victory. We all fail at times. Sometimes, it is the loser who has the biggest score to settle, not the winners. It is our enthusiasm to attempt a new chore or task; to tackle a new challenge that propels us forward.

I recently watched an adorable video of a 6 year old girl trying to mount her bareback pony without the assistance of her parents, saddle, stirrups or a leg up of any kind. This poor girl struggled and struggled, but her wise parents, the ones filming this event, knew the girl had to make mistakes in order to learn how to do it herself. If life was just a series of one victory after the other, then life as an adventure would immediately cease to be a challenge.

I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head, when she used to tell me and my siblings all the time, “you learn from your mistakes”. She was an artist, and she was typically talking about drawing outside the lines in some creative endeavor. However, what she was teaching us was that you have to draw outside the lines, take a chance, a risk and be willing to fall on your face once or twice to learn how to manuver the complicated world we live in.

All innovative technology, and new ways of thinking were risky in the beginning. It is through trial and error that we find our sweet spot, so to speak, and it is the way our thoughts manufacture new ideas. If we never reached beyond the stars, we would be constantly doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Something I learned in grade school was how Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. It was a mistake. He wasn’t looking for an antibiotic, he was experimenting with the influenza virus in the Laboratory of the Inoculation Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in London.  Often described as a careless lab technician, Fleming returned from a two-week vacation to find that a mold had developed on an accidentally contaminated staphylococcus culture plate. Upon examination of the mold, he noticed that the culture prevented the growth of staphylococci and the first antibiotic was discovered for therapeutic purposes. What if he had given up, or worse, thrown away that one accident? Think of how the world today would be dramatically different without the first antibiotic!

Did you ever fall off your bike when you were learning to ride a two wheeler? Did you skin your knee? Did you give up? Of course not, you got back up and you learned to balance and pedal and get where you were going. You learned to start and stop and, perhaps, eventually do tricks on that two wheeler. But in the beginning, you fell. You wobbled and you hurt not only your pride, but your limbs. But, you got back up. You did it again and again, until you got it right. And once you learn how to ride a bike, you will never, ever forget!

So it is sometimes our biggest accidents and faults that bring about the most revolutionary change in us and in society as a whole. Countless thousands have been saved by this haphazard lab technician who would forever be credited with saving thousands of lives in future generations, through his discovery of penicillin.

So gather all your faults, mistakes and mishaps, pile them in a box and learn from them. Don’t take those lessons for granted. Make them count. Count them as blessings, sheaves that are gathered together and become some of life’s best prizes.

There are no mistakes in life, only lessons.

Fall down, get up again, and use your lesson to improve yourself and those around you! Take a risk and see what benefits may arise from not knowing if you will succeed or fail. Who knows, one day, you too may discover penicillin or some equally important improvement that could save million of lives in the future.

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