My partner Eric and I are passionate about sailing. When we are not actually sailing our 24-foot sailboat, we like to talk about sailing, search for the next (bigger) boat and look at sailing blogs and forums. One of the forums is on the topic of living aboard your boat and one of the threads really gets my dander up. It is all about how people “fail” at living aboard. “So-and-So-Sailor only lived aboard for three months!” someone posts. “Epic Fail!” they cry.
I lived on my 37-foot sailboat for over four years and when I decided it was time to sell the boat and move inland, I had no sense of “failure” at all. And why should I? We lived very happily at a marina in Puget Sound, cruised south to San Francisco and ended up living on a mooring in San Diego Bay for a year. I loved living aboard, but when I was done, I was done. Now, after nearly twenty years of shore-side life, two kids and a divorce, I’m ready to move back aboard. Did I “fail” at living ashore?
It is my strong conviction that there are no failures in life, only new things to experience and ways of learning about oneself. I have a friend who completed a novel, strenuously revised and edited it, searched extensively and unsuccessfully for an agent or a publisher and finally decided to self-publish it so she could move on to the next project. Did she fail? Or did she write and publish a great book? Why do we as a culture put so much emphasis on success and despise what we call failure?
People who grab life by the throat and ride it screaming into the sunset may fall and be hurt, but they can also pick themselves up, brush off the dirt and hail the next taxi. Let’s pay more attention to those who boldly take risks, step outside their comfort zone and try something they always wanted to try. Bolster them up, encourage them and pat them on the back when they say, “I’ve had enough,” and they give it up. Don’t snicker behind their backs and whisper about failure. Not every path will work out, but changing course is not something to regret or revile. There are no failures in life, but there are plenty of people who never try. Maybe if they knew they couldn’t fail, it would be easier for them. We’ve added a ton of new words to the dictionary in recent years. Let’s just take this one out. Failure.
Think about it: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?