A 30 Cent Lesson

Failure is what happens, not who you are

Last night I paid my first ever library fine.

The DVD I thought was due on the 13th turned out to the due on the 5th.

Worse yet, this error was discovered after the library closed Saturday.

No way to rush the DVD back until Monday.

I’d have to live with my negligence for at least another day.


Can you believe I forgot about the return until supper time.

Panic set in.

Only three hours to get the DVD back.

Or face another day of being negligent.

Not going to happen.

Cats fed, I raced over to the library with penance money in hand.


Unbelievably, I returned home only 30 cents poorer.

My fineless badge of honour, however, was gone.

No longer could I hold myself up as an example to myself of being diligent, trustworthy and responsible.


Let’s not get overly dramatic here, Lorraine.

Missing a due date and paying a fine is not the end of the world.

Or you.


You made a mistake.

Dealt with it.

Even returned another DVD and book on time.

You’re good.

Probably a little better.


Have to admit to feeling a little freer.

Failing has its perks.

Another unreasonable standard to uphold – set for myself, by myself – has fallen.

One less thing to juggle.

More proof I’m not perfect.


Sounds weird, but practicing failure is a good thing.

When you don’t fail often enough, every failure is huge.

Because you have little to gauge it against.

And you wasted all that energy spent trying to avoid failing.

Then you failed at not failing.

Which means you failed at two things.

So now you’re an even bigger failure than originally thought.


My how quickly failure can spiral out of control.


But when you fail a lot, the ooommpphh gets drained out of it.

Or at least reduced.

With lots to rank against, failure is comparative rather than wholly singular.

Not everything is epic.

Or even failures at all.

Simply different from expectations.

Tons of failures are small and minor.

And realistically, inconsequential.

Those are the ones you forget to notice, but are oh so important.


If you fail all the time, and and don’t even skip a beat, then what.


You’ve failed repeatedly, without being a failure.

Failing is an outcome.

Failure describes what happened.

Not defines who you are.


Failing at returning the DVD on time was good.

I think of all the times worrying and scrambling to return a book just to say I wasn’t late.

Ranking that in the same category as some of the things I’ve done …

Oy oy oy.

Glad now to give myself a break.


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Not quite a crazy cat lady (yet?) – Lorraine’s insatiable curiosity of life leads her to explore, question and push beyond the box. A self-professed “left-brained creative big picture idea” type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing possibility everywhere and in everyone, and is a moth-to-flame for being part of making that possibility come true.

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