Loneliness is a kind of tax we must pay for a certain complexity of mind.
The book I am writing was finished six months ago. Or at least I thought so. The unimaginable happened as I put the final touches on my manuscript using Apple’s Pages software. My book vanished. I stared at my screen in disbelief. A veteran of the writing gremlins, I was nonplussed and immediately started searching for my last version strategically saved. My previous saved version was also missing. My brow furrowed. I spent the next hour doing everything I knew to recover my manuscript. I had nothing.
I called Apple. To their credit, they tried unsuccessfully to locate my work. Three days passed before the final verdict was rendered. Hours and hours of writing, editing, and proofreading were gone. I sat back reflectively, musing that God, the universe, or the great “I am” had decided my book was not worthy. I would start over. This version would be better. It would be months before I fully appreciated the lesson I needed to learn.
Life is filled with imperfections. And we are not in control. But what we can control, we must control by daring to know failure to find success.
Life is a process of trial and error and eliminating what does not work and keeping what does. We diligently study the results of others to avoid their mistakes and learn from their failures to find success. I am licensed or certified to fly planes, scuba dive in the ocean, and defend myself with my hands and small weapons. In each case, I have studied failure maturely and meticulously. My mind is laser-focused on overcoming life’s imperfections while understanding that I have no control over my circumstances. Because failures flying, scuba-diving, defending myself, or skydiving are potentially life-ending events, I have become exceptionally well-versed in getting myself beyond failures. Or else.
Mature people don’t risk their lives on a whim. They study the errors of others. They dare to know the gritty truth of failure, not to avoid it but to cope with its inevitability. Failure is inevitable because life is imperfect, and we are not in control. The loss of my book did not traumatize me. I allowed my natural anger and frustration to roll over me so that I could learn from the experience. Taking the situation head-on, I dared to know my failures in the process. I did not blame Apple. Well, maybe a little. The truth is that I had been lazy in my digital diligence. And the central premise of my book was lacking. Consequently, I changed software, made better back-ups, and hopefully wrote a better book. It seems God, the universe, or the great “I am” was right.
The notion of dare to know, or in Latin, Sapere Aude, was introduced to us by Immanuel Kant in 1784. Dare to know or to use your own understanding became Enlightenment's motto. Enlightenment is the human’s emergence from his self-incurred minority or immaturity. This immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without direction from another.1 It is not enough to be mature and serious enough to study failure; we must find out for ourselves. Daring to know is also daring to go through failure to find the rich thrill of success.
I carved my worldview at the edge of human performance as a soldier, pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, martial artist, academic, runner and businessperson. Facing risk, I played for keeps moving beyond my daily stress and information overload into a headspace where I could bend reality to my liking. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Change or getting better always comes at a price. No shortcuts. To better myself, I have become a connoisseur of incremental improvements, and I dared to know failure to find success. No grand gestures or impossible goals, I learned to think several steps ahead of danger and make small, consistent changes in response to life’s imperfections. Along the way, I experienced many failures. Too many to count. Even so, I never gave up. In my perseverance, I found power.
Until next time. Travel safe.