On Failing

The little tidbit below is something I wrote back in June of 2012. I was, at the time, in the tight grip of depression. Lots has happened since then and that grip has lost its hold. Though I still have normal ups and downs, I do not wrestle that beast any more. So why do I share this gloomy nugget so many years after the fact? 1) It’s the end of another school year, and 2) the last of my grandparents just passed away this week. Endings have a way of making me stop to consider life a little longer. What did I intend to do or say or be? What did I actually do? What were the real effects of my words and presence? Do I even perceive these intentions and effects correctly? Is there yet hope for change? The answer, of course, is yes. While we breathe, we hope. Perhaps even because of our failure, we hope. So here you go: some old thoughts on failure at a time when my feet are planted on hope.

The End of Things

It is at the end of things that I find myself drowning in the sea of all that I am not. Only at the end — where there is no more hoping, trying, or running ahead of that final, fateful wave which says “enough” — it is then that I am overrun and flooded. All that I could not become, did not become, chose to ignore, and left undone, catches my heels and slams me to the ground. “I tried!” I start to cry, but the bitter flood rushes in and chokes the breath from the words. Good intentions pave the road to hell, so I’m told. What good is the intending when the truth is that I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t.

I did not teach what I ought to have taught;
I did not reach who I ought to have sought.
I could not see the heart of the pain;
I could not be the refuge from the rain.
I would not speak the words that heal;
I would not let my heart be real.

Was I too proud?  Too stubborn?  Too blind?  Naive?  Where is the shore upon which this wave will break and retreat?

In this world, it is true that all things born must die. There is too a kind of death in endings: the life that was can be no more. The hearts I love will wander far and the moments that brought me joy will fade to memory. And in that tenuous moment of regeneration, when the new beginning has not yet arrived and the ending enfolds my soul in a silent shroud, I tremble in the presence of my meagre essence.

O Love, that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

George Matheson

One thought on “On Failing

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  1. So sorry to hear of your last grandparent passing. That happened for me about 10 years ago and it was a surreal thought to consider my parents are the next wave/generation.

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