To My Children: Falling Short

*** welcome to another of the “To My Children” posts. I wrote this one a little over a year ago, but kept it in my draft file for one reason or another. It’s time to share. Enjoy! ***


Hey Kids,

I love you, always.

Some of my favorite movie scenes involve the hero facing the darkness within, or face what they fear the most. Luke Skywalker in the dark side cave on Dagobah in “The Empire Strikes Back”. Atreyu facing the Southern Oracle in “The Never Ending Story”. Galadriel being tempted and resisting the One Ring in “The Fellowship of The Ring”.

The archetypes are heavily saturated not just in pop culture but in epic stories and myths the world over, because it is practically a universal choice that each of us come to. Facing the darkness within; facing that which we fear. Or, put our head in the sand, run away, deny the darkness and the fear. Some people unfortunately, sadly, do choose this latter path for whatever reason.

Experiencing this thing we call life as a human being, I believe that we must understand and accept our capacity for failure; for falling short of the mark and our own ideals. We must understand and accept our capacity to inflict pain; bringing hurt upon those that we love the most and those we don’t even know. Yes, even our capacity for evil. History is filtered with examples of our capacity for evil, and we are part of that same human race, so that same potential is in us. To deny it is folly.

Confronting, understanding, accepting this darker, more fearful side helps bring harmony… maybe the better term is purpose, in shooting to be a higher version of ourselves, to strive for an ideal, even if we stumble and fall. You don’t have to do wrong in order to understand that you have the capacity. You don’t have to fail in what you are striving towards to understand your capacity to fall.

But don’t be too quick to say, “I would never ______________.” It’s an interesting facet of human nature that those who pontificate about the things they abhor or would never do… do those things.

Back to the ideal…

Like Jor-El (Superman’s Kryptonian Dad) said in “Man of Steel”

“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

Children, it pains me to tell you this, but I know you’ve already experienced it in smaller things:

You will stumble. You will fall.

You will painfully fail and fall short, you will lose… I’m sorry…

This is part of life, kids, but… you will get back up.

With everything that is in me, I urge you to pick up whatever pieces you can and move on, move forward. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Sometimes rebuilding what was broken, sometimes just salvaging what you can and you chase your ideal and continue chasing it!

Just because you fall short, doesn’t mean you are out for the count.

There have been so many times as a father, a husband, a leader and as a friend where I have fallen short of my ideals, of what I would call my higher self; that self that I strive to become day after day. In a way, I’m “used to” failure, but I do not accept it as a permanent verdict on my life.

Recall that oft cited Rocky Balboa quote?

“It ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Just because someone fails to hit the mark, just because someone comes up short or is found lacking or wanting in their ideals, doesn’t make them a hypocrite or failure. Part of the point is to have an ideal, have a mark to shoot for!

Your ideal, your higher self, shouldn’t necessarily be fully attainable, either. Again, that’s part of the point, to strive continually higher up that mountain. Continually growing and coming closer and closer to that ideal. As you age, learn and gain experience, that ideal, too, will more than likely change for the better.

So, move towards that ideal. Stumble. Fall.

Get back up and move towards it again.

I love you.

I will always love you.


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