When we walk forward with confidence, we aren't imagining the pitfalls. We are running on our own steam, so to speak, moving ahead with every intention of completing our current course. But our confidence, our intentions, are not always enough.
My message today is only an echo of the great Winston Churchill's World War II sentiment: "Never, never, never give up." Don't ask yourself why something you wanted or worked toward didn't happen. The "why" of any event is often arbitrary or a weaving of so many different threads, you wouldn't have been able to do anything about it anyway. Better to ask yourself before you begin any task: "Why not?"
This is not being pessimistic--it's being realistic. Like with quantum mechanics, there are infinite possibilities, infinite directions any situation or circumstance may take. In order to truly attain your goal, think about those possibilities--the good, the bad and the ugly.
I have a friend who was once my student; he is like me in that we both had social disadvantages and we both transcended those disadvantages to get where we are. We were recently chatting, and I was conveying how I'd had a severe disappointment. He reminded me that "people like us" always have a Plan B, C and D. In other words, those who have faced tremendous difficulty understand disappointment, and though not made of stone, we also understand that we must be pragmatic if we are to succeed. I hadn't forgotten that, not really. I just get tired sometimes. I'm exhausted frankly. And this friend is younger than I so has not had quite as many disappointments yet, though he's had some real doozies, I admit. What I mean here is that the more we suffer difficulty and disappointmnent, the harder it is to recover. Bounce back, if you will. I hate the phrase "bounce back." What are we, rubber balls? We just propel ourselves forward and weee, up we go??? Unlike rubber, we fragile humans break when we hit a hard surface. It's not possible to truly "bounce back," and when such language becomes commonplace in society, when we don't "bounce back" like a non-sentient rubber ball, we're scrutinized. We're told to take a pill. We're told to put it aside. "Forget about it." That doesn't quite work. There are no magic pills. And sometimes, you simply can't forget.
So, when you can fully consider any major undertaking, you will ultimately be able to better handle whatever the outcome may be. You might fracture a bone or two, you might even feel like you've been smashed into tiny fragments, but you'll KNOW that you'll heal; you'll know you'll try something different. And you're confidence will return. At least, that's been my experience. Though I'm not quite healed enough yet to "bounce back" from my most recent difficulty, I do know exactly what I have to do when I'm ready in order to succeed the next time.
Joseph Campbell said that "Life is pain." He was right. The Buddhist call life a model for suffering and impermanence. No matter how you put it, life is full of disappointment, full of difficulty--but if you dare to ask WHY NOT, you will find yourself able to take on any task, no matter how overwhelming. You'll find that though you may feel daunted, you know the steps necessary to succeed. That's pretty powerful.
We all fail; we have to. Success is only success if you've overcome failure. There's a lot of artificial success in today's world that can be discouraging and distracting. Don't bother with asking why. Ignore that question. Always ask, "Why not?" and you'll ALWAYS be successful.