Looking back on failure

When you look back on your choices from a year ago, you should always hope to find a few decisions that seem stupid now because that means you are growing. If you only live in the safety zone where you know you can’t mess up, then you’ll never unleash your true potential. If you know enough about something to make the optimal decision on the first try, then you’re not challenging yourself.

James Clear

welcome to Holland

It’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Emily Perl Kingsley


The “reality’ that is left behind in all endings is not just a picture on the wall. It is a sense of which way is up and which way is down; it is a sense of which way is forward and which way is back. It is, in short, a way of orienting oneself and of moving forward into the future. In the old passage rituals, the one in transition would often be taken into unfamiliar territory, beyond the bounds of former experience, and left there for a time. All the customary signs of location would be gone, and the only remaining source of orientation would be the heavens. In such a setting and the state of mind it was meant to create, you would be (in the word’s of Robert Frost) “lost enough to find yourself.”

As with other aspects of the ending process, most of us already know disorientation. We recognize the lost, confused, don’t-know-where-I-am felling that deepens as we become disengaged, disidentified and disenchanted. The old sense of life as “going somewhere” breaks down, and we feel like shipwrecked sailors.

William Bridges, Transitions


Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition. At such times, we need to consider whether the old view or belief may not have been an enchantment cast on us in the past to keep us from seeing deeper into ourselves and others than we were ready to. For the whole idea of disenchantment is that reality has many layers, none “wrong” but each appropriate to a particular phase of intellectual and spiritual development. The disenchantment experience is the signal that they time has come to look below the surface of what has been thought to be so. It is the sign that you are ready to see and understand more now.

Lacking that perspective on such experiences, however, we often miss the point and simply become” disillusioned.” The disenchanted person recognized the old view as sufficient in its time, but insufficient now.

On the other hand, the disillusioned person simply rejects the embodiment of the earlier view; she finds a new husband or he gets a new boss, but both leave unchanged the old enchanted view of relationships. The disenchanted person moves on, but the disillusioned person stops and goes through the play again with new actors. Such a person is on a perpetual quest for a real friend, a true mate, and a trustworthy leader. The quest only goes around in circles, and treal movement and real development are arrested.

William Bridges, Transitions

the suburb within

You might live in the middle of a big city, but there could still be a white picket fence around your imagination. You can take the subway to work but still park your identity in a two-car garage. This is the inner suburbia, and you probably moved her long ago. You’ve learned to contain your longings and sympathies within a comfortable zone, measures and mediocre. To grow, you must move toward otherness. You must quit the ranch house of your soul and head for the forbidden place—your inner wilderness, inner bohemia, or even your inner inner city. The answer you need lie there, where you are least at home.

Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions