Perhaps the title of this post seems like an oxymoron to you. If there is anything I have learned through years of attempting to learn how to be a successful human being, it is that success and failure are opposites.
|Oh wait, are some of these pointing the same way? Hmmmm|
When it comes to the day to day of "natural living" or "going green" or "environmentalism" or "eating organic" or "mindfulness" or whatever you want to call it, I reject that above statement. I say pshaw. Whatever. It's wrong.
Because it is ok to fail. In fact, it's important to fail. And it's important to understand how to fail and how to do it with grace.
So, I'd like to share some of my "failures" with you here and talk about why they really don't upset me.
I fail to maintain a "perfect" diet
Let's pretend for a second that the perfect diet is even actually a real thing instead of an imaginary construct. I don't do it. I am allergic to wheat and corn and sometimes I still eat them. I will talk all day long about how bad processed food is for you and then drink a diet coke at a party.
Am I a hypocrite, or a human being? If you say something is good and you fail to achieve it, are you a hypocrite or a human being who is trying to be more or less responsible about what you put in your mouth?
Our culture has really bought into the idea that certain foods are sinful or wrong and for me, part of learning how to listen to my body and eat more naturally involves learning to reject that kind of good vs. evil thinking about food. I try to avoid things that aren't food or that are going to make me sick, but I am done with the idea that if I slip I have to force myself to do penance.
I cook things that taste bad
Sometimes, in spite of being a frankly pretty clever cook and a dab hand in the kitchen, I make something that simply doesn't taste good. Mr. Scrimp and I take a bite, he tries valorously to find something good about it, and I laugh and tell him he has permission to say it's gross, because it is.
This is not a reason to throw my hands up and never cook again. It's funny, I always learn something new (i.e. "next time, make sure the lid is firmly on the pepper before you shake it over the soup" or "next time, don't forget to take things out of the oven when they are done cooking") and that is fine.
I kill my plants
I love gardening. Gardening does not love me. Most of the time when I plant things, I ultimately kill them. I keep planting things, because trying and failing is how you learn and every year I keep a few more things alive.
My house is a mess sometimes
Sometimes I get busy and sometimes there are just too many other things that are higher priority to me than scrubbing my baseboards. Fortunately, "cleanliness is next to Godliness" is not actually in the Bible, and so far I have never heard of anybody being killed by a dust bunny or two.
In a more general sense...
The process of completely overhauling the way you live is slow and sometimes kind of torturous. You can't change everything overnight. You can change one thing at a time, maybe even two or three if you're extremely lucky. You will take two steps forward and one step back, constantly.
But every time you mess up, you are preparing yourself to do a little better next time. You are arming yourself with foreknowledge, experience, and a host of good stories (seriously, I should have made sure the lid was securely attached to the pepper).
When you read blogs or magazines or books or watch tv or youtube videos about how to keep house, go green, be a locavore, eat naturally, lower your carbon footprint, give the middle finger to Monsanto... whatever it is, you are being sold an image of success. What you aren't seeing are all the failures that built the path to that success.
Don't be afraid to fail, or to make a mistake, or to only change one thing about what you do instead of changing a hundred things at once. Instead, be afraid to give up, stop caring, or not try at all.