By Henrylito D. Tacio
I admit I am a failure – as a painter. When I was still a kid, I dreamed of becoming the next Juan Luna, the finest painter this country has ever produced. Or, I can be in the list of such leagues as Fernando Amorsolo, Vicente Manansala, Hernando Ocampo, Victor Edades, and Mauro “Malang” Santos.
Only in my dream!
But my parents could not support me to send to a fine arts school. Besides, there were no fine arts schools in Davao City at that time. Either I had to go Cebu or Manila. So, I had to lay to rest that ambition in my mind forever.
On second thought, had it not been for that ambition, I won’t become a journalist. When I was in high school, I discovered that I can write the exact details of what I had envisioned in my mind. “You can be a
good writer,” my teacher told me.
So, that was what I did. I focused my energy on becoming a writer. When I entered college, I was already writing articles for various national magazines, including Mod, Woman’s Home Companion, and Mr. & Ms. Today, I write for various national and international publications, including the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest.
“One who fears failure limits his activities,” millionaire Henry Ford once said. “Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.” Or to quote the words of American President Theodore
Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
And you will experience success only if you have undergone failure. There is no such thing as gain without pain, happiness without sadness, and tears without smiles. In a way, all of us have to pass trials and tribulations. In a movie, a hero can never be a hero without villains.
The more the wicked the villains are, the more we cheer for the protagonists. We often identify ourselves with the underdogs for in the end, they will end up triumphant. The same is true with success. “I never blame failure – there are too many complicated situations in life – but I am absolutely merciless towards lack of effort.”
One person who died a failure was John Pierpont. “In 1866, at age 81, he came to the end of his days as a government clerk in Washington, D.C., with a long string of personal defeats abrading his spirit,” wrote Robert Fulghum, author of the best-selling It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It.
Pierpont graduated from Yale University, which his grandfather had helped found. He started his career as a school teacher but he failed as “he was too easy on his students.” He became a lawyer but still failed as “he was too generous to his clients and too concerned about justice to take the cases that brought good fees.”
He tried business, but failed again because “he could not charge enough for his good to make a profit, and was too liberal with credit.” A poet he became but he didn’t collect enough royalties to make a decent living.
He became a church minister but he was fired later on. He tried politics but failed two times: as governor and as congressman. When Civil War broke out, he volunteered to become a chaplain. Two weeks later, he quit “having found the task too much of a strain on his health.”
By this time, he was already 76 years old. Someone found him an obscure job – and for the rest of his life, he worked as a menial file clerk. When he died, no one seemed to notice as this person had accomplished nothing he set out to do or be.
“We who do less than our best have failed as surely as those who attempt nothing,” observed Richard Morgan. “The only difference,” he adds, “is in the degree.” But then, William A. Ward pointed out, “The
greatest failure is the failure to try.”
I have a friend who can become successful but can never attain success at all. Every time he is given an assignment beyond what he can do, he won’t accept it. “Too stressful,” he said. But the thing is, he is afraid to do it because he is afraid that he may not be able to do it. The words of James Matthew Barrie came to my mind: “We are all of us failures – at least, the best of us are.”
I think in this world, we have to accept challenges. Without those hardships, life on earth would be boring. It will monotonous. Imagine working on the same thing for the rest of your life? Do something before it’s too late. Musician Bruce Springsteen offered this insight: “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.”
Now, do you think John Pierpont died a failure? Actually, he wasn’t! Every December, the Christian world celebrates his success. He had written a song that everyone is very familiar with. And that song is “Jingle Bells.” Yes, he wrote that song! Fulghum wrote: “To write a song that stands for the simplest joys, to
write a song that three or four hundred million people around the world know – a song about something they’ve never done but can imagine – a song that every one of us, large and small, can hoot out the
moment the chord is struck on the piano and the chord is struck in our spirit – well, that’s not failure.”
William A. Ward again reminds, “From failure can come valuable experience; from experience – wisdom; from wisdom – mutual trust; from mutual trust – cooperation; from cooperation – united effort; from
united effort – success.” With that statement, perhaps we can now do laughing all the way.
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