Honey of my Failures
Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
That I had a beehive
Here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
Were making white combs
And sweet honey
From my old failures.
A friend of mine sends me lovely little messages every day. They come from a book called The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. It has daily entries – poems, quotes all sorts of thoughts and each one is followed by a short note from the author. Two weeks ago, I received this one. It was October 18th – a Tuesday actually. The day after we sent out the email that we were closing the studio.
That Monday night Nick and I sat up later than we normally do going back and forth over the wording of that email. We were both exhausted – I’d been crafting the email for days, but didn’t have the nerve yet to get it out into the world. You see, I was still holding on to some odd thought that we could make this whole thing work. Somehow. So, at the end of our back and forth, when the final copy was decided on, I sat in front of this damn screen – like I have so many times before – and I hesitated. The online marketing system we use has this picture of a big monkey hand (it’s called MailChimp) with its finger getting ready to push a big red button. I watched that big hand try to push that button for 5 minutes or more. Like if I didn’t hit the send button, somehow we would miraculously not have to close. Like my waiting could change the course of things.
When I finally hit the send button, I broke down into sobs. I just sat there on the couch with Nick and cried my face off. These past 2 years have been such a struggle, with things we never even dreamed we’d have to endure and yet, there were bright spots too. So many amazing people have walked through our doors, people we never would have met if Cycle Swami never was.
One of my life goals was to have my own yoga studio. To close the doors on this dream I’ve held so close for so long feels like total and complete failure. Like I wasn’t motivated enough, I didn’t try enough or work hard enough or I wasn’t good enough. Failure, failure, failure, and failure. And then, I got this poem in my inbox. Perfect timing, right? We have all stumbled on this path. We have all failed at one time or another. There is no clear way through life. One day we’re going in one direction, and the next, that path is consumed by wild fire and there’s nothing to do but turn around and try another way. Sure, we all know fires are devastating. What we don’t know is that they’re necessary too. Fire cleans out the underbrush, cleans the forest floor, opens it up to the sunlight and nourishes the soil. Having burned out that low-growing underbrush, the trees that are already established can grow stronger and healthier.
Failure is like that sometimes. In the onset it seems like all is lost, like everything you’ve ever held dear is going up in flames; the ground shifts and all at once, you’re standing in the rubble of something you worked so hard to build. But, if you stand there long enough, in the cinder and the ash, you will soon feel the warm sun on your face. And, if you look around, you can see the strength in the things that the fire didn’t destroy.
As Mark Nepo says in his book: “Just know, when everything is falling apart, that you are preparing the ground of you for something ripe that can’t yet be seen, but which, in time, will be tasted.”
The sweet honey of your old failures.