Friday, September 23, 2016

Page 52, Sentence No. 5

"This is a generalised feeling of envy and resentment about life: Just as in a passionate age enthusiasm is the unifying principle, so in a passionless and over-reflective age envy becomes the negatively unifying principle."
(Robert Ferguson: Life lessons from Kierkegaard)
Grab the nearest book, look up page 52 and share the 5th sentence. For no reason whatsoever.

My friend, Heli, posted this on her Facebook page this morning. Just for fun, I grabbed the nearest book and did the same. This is what I got. 'Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better' Samuel Beckett. The book is 'It's not how good you are but how good you want to be'. (Apparently I bought it in May 2004 and it's still a best seller - the joys of a digital footprint...I'll leave thoughts on that for another time.)

We all fail in life from time to time. It's inevitable and part of our human nature to get things wrong and to make mistakes. I know I've made many mistakes and failed at things more times than I care to remember. The trouble is, society is not very accepting of this. Schools don't really prepare us for failure. I know my schooling didn't. It was all about who could come top of the class. If you come top of the class, you haven't failed so you're not prepared for the inevitable failures that come later and may be ill-equipped to deal with them. If you are not top of the class, you feel a constant failure and under pressure to do better in exams which leads to stress and, likely, even less ability to perform or conform to what's expected of you. Most people don't perform well under extreme stress. In the corporate world, failure at work means getting fired or the intense feeling of shame - either scenario is debilitating and stressful. Failure and shame are often swept under the carpet or glossed over. Yet, if we don't make mistakes, it's almost impossible to learn or improve.

I'm not sure what else to say except maybe to have less judgement and more compassion when people make mistakes for it happens to us all. We all need to take Samuel Becket's advice and fail, fail again and fail better.

What's on page 52, sentence number 5 of the nearest book to you?


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