Category Archives: Life

The Value of Failure

We’ve all done it. Some more than others of course. But it is part of the learning curve. Some successes were only possible because of the failure that preceded it. So why are we so afraid of it?

Nowadays it seems we don’t want to teach our children the value of failure. There’s a lovely story I refer to quite often about an older man taking his grandchild to a skating rink for the first time.  The man holds the young boy’s hands to get him on the ice and then throws his own arms into the air and says “fall down”. Of course, little boy does. The grandfather repeats this a few more times until the boy asks his grandfather ‘why?”. His reply surprised me when I first heard it: “It is to teach you not to be afraid to fall. You’ve already done it.”  Brilliant!

We fear what we do not know.  Our children need to understand that failure is something we all need to experience. If they don’t learn to deal with it when they are young, it can be devastating as an adult. Our lives are full of adversity. Along with failure and disappointment and confusion and…. It is also full of wonder and beauty and joy. There is a balance between the two that can be difficult to comprehend if you’re not exposed to it as a child.  I learned failure when I was young. My parents allowed me to fail, they didn’t shield me from it. But they were always there in the aftermath. That is good parenting.

I see too many young adults now who exhibit feelings of empowerment and entitlement. When someone disagrees with them, they are crushed and unable to handle it. They have lived charmed lives.  We all want what is best for our progeny. We want them to know only joy and success. But a false sense of security can before more damaging than the truth.

We inoculate our children against diseases that we know could be so incredibly harmful if they contracted them as adults. So why aren’t we doing the same thing with life. And how exactly do you measure success? Is it by how much money you have earned or awards you have received, or perhaps by the number people you have touched positively? I know what I use.

 

Lip Service

Now for those of you who know me, this is a warning. I guess basically it’s a warning for everybody. I’m about to have a little rant. Something has recently been brought to my attention again and I wish to vent. You have been warned.

I live my life from the seat of wheelchair. Again, to those of you who follow me you know this. It does not affect the person I am but it can have a great effect on my surroundings. I’m occasionally hampered by steps, by doors and by people. The steps and doors, I just look for another way or sometimes don’t do what I wanted to do. The people, that’s where life gets interesting.

As a child I was painfully shy. I didn’t speak up in class, I wouldn’t look anyone in the eye and I lived my life terrified that someone would speak to me. Obviously, I survived. In High School I joined the drama club by accident and I was given tools to help me deal with my insecurities. I grew to love inhabiting someone else’s psyche. And then this happened.

In my middle 20s I developed multiple sclerosis. As diseases go it really isn’t that awful. I was able to hide it for many years. But eventually it became obvious. The wheelchair is a dead giveaway. With assistance I am still able to continue to have a fulfilling life.  Our government is wonderful at mandating that society assist with disabilities. And for the most part they do comply beautifully. But then there are the other ones.

I went to see a movie a little while ago in a very big, well known Cinema. They said they were wheelchair accessible and technically they are. And here is something I don’t think most people understand. You can be technically correct and still be oh so very wrong. My wheelchair accessed the cinema perfectly but the only spot available to park said wheelchair was so close to the screen that I couldn’t take in the whole image without moving my head. There was no one sitting anywhere near me because no one wants to sit that close to the screen.

Think of sitting in front of your TV. Now think of sitting 3 inches from the screen of your TV.  Are you comfortable? When I mentioned to the manager that this was a problem and asked if there were there any other places for wheelchairs to sit, I was greeted with a shrug. You know the shrug, that raising of the shoulders to the ears that signifies “I don’t give a rat’s ass”. But because no words are exchanged it can be denied.

I did try to watch it. It was a good movie and I really wanted to see it.  I had to wait for it to be on TV where I could actually see the whole screen.

I tried to call the head office (this is a really big organization) and had a hell of a time. No one was terribly interested in what I had to say. It was brought to my attention, quite forcefully, that they had passed all the laws to be fully wheelchair accessible. I asked them if they knew what it meant to be wheelchair friendly. I swear to you, I heard their shoulders go up.

I know that things are significantly better than they used to be for people with disabilities. It will never be perfect. There’ll always be someone that is unsatisfied. I am thankful that I am welcomed in so many places. But sometimes I just want to watch a bloody movie. And in some places that is too much to ask.

There is a movie house I do frequent that goes above and beyond for wheelchairs. It is privately owned by someone who cares.

This is something these big corporations don’t seem to understand: if something benefits me and my wheelchair it also benefits many others. People with canes, walkers, baby carriages. I want to live in a world that is completely inclusive. Perhaps that is only something that is possible when individuals are involved. Corporations spent too much time looking at their  bottom line.

 

Rant completed. Thank you for your attention.