One of the real assets to working in a bookstore is the Advance Reader Copies–those paperbacks that appear in a white box shortly before everyone else gets their hands on them. Early this morning I read a little book of Pema Chödrön’s, Fail Fail Again Fail Better but, heads up, the interview at the end is the better part of the book. An eighty-year-old nun now, Chodron is refreshingly honest about her mistakes as a young woman, her two failed marriages, her struggles with parenting.
In this book, she writes about how to live a life in the present–with mindfulness–and yet acknowledge the wrongs we’ve all committed in our lives. In other words, how to reconcile what we’ve screwed up–and we all screw up, badly, one way or another–with a creative and loving and productive life. Isn’t that a fine place to aim for? To hold the past, acknowledge it, hold it before you like the foulest and ugliest of your fears, and yet move on.
Canoeing with my daughters today is a wholly present moment–sunlight and dragonflies, the water almost too warm at the surface, then cooler the deeper down I dove–and yet I carried with me, secreted, as if beneath a middle rib, thoughts of the book I’m rewriting–taking apart and taking apart–and will begin to put back together, better. Finer. Smarter.
“Fail better” means you being to have the ability to hold… “the raw of vulnerability” in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as a part of your humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward… If it’s something like writing, just start–don’t not write the book.
–– Pema Chödrön