We’ve been talking a lot about failure lately. But here’s what to do when it all comes together.
There are many, many posts that deal with getting up eight times after falling down seven. But sooner or later, it’s bound to come together. A plan gets well-executed. The wild card comes through. The pass is completed. The heist succeeds. The good guy gets the girl and for just one fleeting moment, all seems well and right in the world.
Everyone who’s tasted success understands the powerful allure of the victory cry.
On this Super Bowl Sunday, we’re going to see some success. We’re going to see men in endzones. We’re going to see, first hand, how professionals deal with success. We’re going to see fans on both sides exalted…and disappointed. For every triumph, there must be someone or something who was triumphed over. Success presents a unique opportunity in how both friends and enemies remember our victory.
It’s been a long-fabled ritual of scoring a touchdown in American Football of the “Touchdown Dance.” Having just scored, the scorer proceeds to execute some signature move of theirs to a crowd of fans screaming in exultation, or calling for their demise.
While I was never big into sports myself, when I was first published, I was on cloud nine. As an aspiring writer, being granted a new audience was an incredibly euphoric experience, comparable to climbing a mountain and looking out at a horizon of possibilities—or, say, scoring a touchdown.
But here’s the secret to scoring touchdowns: there’s still the rest of the game to play.
I had been working on headstand for the first few months after I began my regular yoga practice. Every week, I would be in class with my teacher, and as other students flipped their legs agilely into the air, I fluttered and floundered and flipped over myself. One day, in a solo practice just playing around, I suddenly found myself balanced and perched in the elusive inversion. Oddly enough, I felt very little euphoria. This thing, this goal, this landmark that I had set for myself had just been passed, but it already felt so distant. I had already accepted the truth of this success. I finished my practice, packed up, and went about my day.
An acting teacher once instructed my class that in cases where we found ourselves in the endzone, it was best to simply hand the ball back to the referee and return to the sidelines; the job done, it was our place to go back and wait to be tapped again.
There is no gloating, no dancing and no ego; just a man seemingly doing his job.
Think about it this way: if a person has to take pictures and share with the world that they’re going to a yoga class like it’s a huge endeavor, then they haven’t been going to classes long enough. If, in football, a player feels an urge to boogie down in the endzone, then their ego is not letting them see the larger game as a whole. Yoga, like football, is not a thing one succeeds at, marks off a list and then goes about the rest of their life; yoga, like scoring touchdowns, is only a mark of a much larger, longer battle being fought. It’s a way of life, peppered with success—and failure.
When I was first published, I simply read the article I’d written a few times, and then I got started on writing the next one. I’m not out there to make everything I write a touchdown; I just write. It’s what I do. I can’t stop, but every now and then, I find myself in the endzone with a well-received piece, wondering what to do next.
Don’t succeed at business; make success the business, and then go about that business. On those days where you find yourself standing in the endzone wondering what to do next, the answer is simple: hand the ball back to the ref as if to say, “I’ll see you again soon.”
Kevin Macku is a 20-something fledgeling yogi with a love of words. He is a trained actor who occasionally appears in local movies and on stage. His preferred methods of expression are based in movement: Suzuki’s Training for the Classical Actor, Viewpoints and Butoh to name a few, all of which benefit from the practice of yoga. In the midst of a rigorous physical practice, he discovered he was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and began to document the experience. These entries can be found at http://doafy.posterous.com/. Kevin himself can be reached at [email protected].
Ed: Kate Bartolotta