I originally ran this column in June of 2016. Each June since I rerun it to make the annual point that life isn’t perfect, but it is so well worth living. Enjoy.
“Life is like an unsharpened pencil. Without a point, its mark is less clear.” – Eraica Chan
We have all heard that life should be about the journey and not the preconceived destination. In our quest to make a better tomorrow out of the failures and successes of today, sometimes we need to step back and reassess the direction and the paths we take as we travel along that journey. If we did not realize it before, the events that have occurred so far this year have shown us that things do not always work out as planned, and oftentimes, we fail and fall flat on our faces in our attempt to keep moving forward. I know from past personal experiences that when we fall, and when we fail, the important point is that we get up and don’t give up. I have learned lessons and achieved some of my greatest accomplishments by failing – royally. Doing it wrong, failing, figuring out what happened, and not doing it that way again was and is a learning process. The process of failing, recovering, correcting the mistakes, and continuing forward can open previously locked doors.
When things fall apart and do not go as planned, don’t get discouraged, get inspired. Look at it as a challenge and not a setback. Because of the failure, you now know another way not to do something. Keep moving forward, and developing new, exciting, and very uniquely your own ways to make lemonade out of the lemons of life.
Everything we do shapes a part of our tomorrow and sometimes it takes the process of cooking up quite a few bad recipes before we finally put it all together, mix everything up just right and serve the absolute best meal of our life. It’s how we grow and mature in that process that will ultimately measure our worth, to God, to our fellow man, and to ourselves.
The message of the following story puts everything I am saying into perspective, and I hope that I have become the type of person and role model, that someday, my grandchildren could write something similar about me.
Spending the night with my grandparents was always a special occasion, and quite often my grandma would cook breakfast food for dinner. I remember one evening we sat down for dinner and my grandma placed a plate of eggs, sausage, and extremely burned biscuits in front of my Granddad. I remember waiting to see if he noticed!
Yet all my Granddad did was reach for his biscuit, reach for the syrup, smile at my Grandma and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter on and pour syrup over that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing and never made a face or uttered a word about it!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my Grandma apologize to my Granddad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then.”
Later that night, I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Grandma put in a hard day of work today and she’s real tired. And besides – a little burned biscuit never hurt anyone!”
Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. I’m not the best at anything; I just want to be the best at trying to become the best me. But what I’ve learned over the years is that learning to accept faults, mine and those of others, and overcoming failures and accepting them as challenges, are essential qualities to living a life well.
Take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and keep moving forward. Burnt biscuits aren’t a deal-breaker nor are any other of life’s daily problems. Just think of them as opportunities to add some more syrup.
So, pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burned one will do just fine.
Comments and impressions are welcomed and requested at firstname.lastname@example.org