Failure is an aftermarket accessory.

Within one day, it seems, my daughter has gone from crawling to walking… holy shit. I stand, mouth agape, speechless and amazed anytime she staggers across the floor like a drunken cowgirl just before falling straight down on her ass into sukhasana (google if needed) like the goddam Buddha. She has this little “cart” thing that she started to walk with before flying solo. It’s half shopping cart and half old guy walker… you know, like the one with the tennis balls on the feet? She grabs the handle, pulls herself up and cooks down the hallway using this colorful plastic doohickey.

As previously mentioned, I stand in astonishment every time this happens but I’m even more dumbfounded when she falls. Why, you might ask? Are you some kind of sicko who likes to see children fail at their tasks? No, I’m flabbergasted at how she gets up after she falls. She just… gets up. There’s no theatrics, histrionics, disappointment or “poor me”. There’s no opinion about the fall in any way. It happens and she just… gets up and keeps on cruising down the hallway. There’s no failure, there’s only something that happened.

As I tower above her, watching this adorably heartening event I take pause in the possibility that failure is learned, not innate. That disappointment is conditioned, not genetic. As she falls, I say “Awww…” (insert sad face) because I’ve been told that falling is failure but… she doesn’t posses this dismal secret of us adult types. She hasn’t been told by someone else that her falling down is a negative thing. She’s fine with it, not bummed out at all. Disappointment didn’t come with her when she came into this world.

Failure is an aftermarket accessory, it doesn’t come stock. We’re all told when to be disappointed by someone else, when we should be sad, when we should be happy, when to be scared. So maybe, just maybe we can unlearn them too. We can unlearn that failure is bad and that maybe it’s just part of the ride. That we’re all gonna fall on our asses and it’s a choice whether we should get bummed out about it or just… get the hell up and keep cruising down the hallway.

To that point, my daughter sleeps in the pitch, I mean pitch, black and she sings to herself when she goes to bed sometimes… no one has told her to be scared of it yet. She sings in the darkness. What can you unlearn today?

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