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Swimming with the Fail Whale

September 27, 2012

Remember that classic graphic from Twitter, when the site was experiencing troubles, the infamous fail whale? Little birds trying to lift a whale? ? I have always loved that graphic not only for the fail it represents, but for the effort still being put forth even though failure was all but inevitable.

He made an appearance at my house this week. I had grand plans for knitting some gifts. I concocted these plans well in advance of when I needed to complete the gifts. I gave myself over a month and a half to accomplish them. Three things I had to get done. Three little things. A scarf, a pair of socks and a skein of yarn. My deadline was today. I have nothing complete.

In short, I failed.

But who, and what, exactly, did I fail? I didn’t fail the intended recipients, they didn’t know the gifts were even coming. I didn’t fail the yarn, or the needles, the roving or the pattern. They are all still there, in good shape, ready to be made into lovely things. The who or what I failed was myself. I didn’t execute my plan like I intended. Sure, there are reasons why I failed in my quest, but there are always REASONS for failure. Mine are pretty basic ones, repeated over and over again. I could have planned my time better, I could have concentrated on the patterns better, I could have remained consistent on my projects, I could have done a lot of things I didn’t do.

In the past I would have been quite upset with myself over this failure. I would have pushed myself harder, I would have stayed up all night, working through the wee hours to get things done. I would have ignored my children and my house and the rest of the inhabitants (No walks for you Kenai!) in favor of pushing myself to try and get at least ONE thing done. I didn’t do that this time. In fact, when I found the mistake on the second sock, three inches back from where I was, I looked the situation over, frogged the entire sock and started over.

Because you know what?

It really didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get the socks done. It didn’t matter that I have started the scarf over three times, only to mess up the pattern again and again. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t frantically spend the night before last spinning so that I could get one skein of yarn spun at least. In the grand scheme of things, none of these things mattered.

This past week I have been reflecting on the things that really matter. I knit because I like it. It calms me, it grounds me. If I finish a project and get a beautiful object out of it, that’s a bonus. If I don’t finish it, who cares? I can always try it again. I can always knit the sock again. I can always start the scarf again and I can always spin some fiber into yarn (once I fix my wheel.) The things that I can’t do again, like watch my daughter’s last tennis match of the season, listen to my son and his friend play terribly on the trombone, tease my eldest child about his job ambitions, sit next to my husband and just enjoy our time together, these are the things that really matter. At the end of the day, when I look at the pile of unfinished things sitting in the basket, or the yarn wound up waiting to be cast on, I need to remember those things.

Start each morning with a hug. End the day with a kiss. Say ‘I love you” often. Enjoy the time that you are given.

If I can do those things every day, I will know I haven’t failed. That’s got to count for something, right?

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