Today I sat for several hours in an over-crowded school cafeteria patiently waiting while Child Numero Uno auditioned for the all-District Honor Band. I am no stranger to sitting and waiting. I'm a parent. It's what I do. This is not even my first time at this venue. I've visited this cafeteria with its cold, over-priced pizza for the past three years. And you know what? I don't mind cold, over-priced pizza. In fact, I rather like it. It symbolizes my child's willingness to try...to put himself in the path of failure, and for that I am extremely proud. In Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the author Amy Chua states in part, "...the only activities your children should be permitted to do are those which they can eventually win a medal; and that medal must be gold."*
Clearly, I am no tiger mom.
And while he's had some success(es), this event is not one of them. With 17 counties in the district and only two tenor saxophones chosen each year, the odds are stacked against him. But still he tries. And still I'm proud.
Like Ms. Chua, you may believe my attitude is the parental justification of a child with a track record for failure, but can you imagine where we'd be if everyone who tried and failed, just simply quit trying?
Did you know that Michael Jordan, easily considered one of the best basketball players of all time, was actually cut from his high school basketball team?
What if J.K. Rowling had given up after her fifteenth rejection letter? Can you imagine a world without the infamous boy wizard and his lightning bolt, shaped scar?
Or that for every home run Babe Ruth hit, he struck out twice? When asked about this he simply said, "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."
I couldn't agree more. If we quit trying, we are certain to never succeed.
I haven't always had such a positive perspective about failure, but practicing yoga has taught me a few things beyond downward facing dog. For example, it has taught me to be present; to live for today, to let go of yesterday, to not agonize about the future. In doing so, I am able to shed my ego. If I fail today, tomorrow will bring a fresh opportunity to try again.
You will often hear a yoga teacher touting: Be. Here. Now. It's not just a mantra, it's a way of life. That's not to say I don't have moments of self-doubt. I do. But yoga empowers me to acknowledge those feelings and accept them. Once I accept them, I can let them go, and the best way to do that is to come to the mat and breathe.
As of this writing, I still don't know whether or not Child Numero Uno has been chosen to participate in the all-District Honor Band this year. Maybe this third attempt will be the one that puts him on the team. What I do know however, with 100% certainty, is that he definitely won't make it, if he doesn't try.
"You create your own universe as you go along"
~Winston Churchill, Nobel peace prize winner, twice elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, failed sixth-grade on his first attempt.
*As a side note, I want to clarify that when I read, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I loved it! I only used a small snippet to prove a point in this post. Overall, it was well-written, self-deprecating, and in the end the author experiences personal growth through the struggles she encounters with her rebellious younger daughter who prefers playing tennis to playing the violin. Gasp!