Before jetting off to Chicago on Friday afternoon, I downloaded a few Podcasts for the flight. The first show I added to my archive was Episode #12 from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lesson— her guest was Brene Brown, I was eager to listen to two of my greatest inspirations converse about “Big Strong Magic.”
The dialogue did not disappoint. The two demystified the notion of collective creativity and they advocated for a painless, joy-filled creative process. Brene shared her experience being a “creative martyr” and Elizabeth soothingly said, “As long as we stay locked in this idea that creativity can only be born through suffering, sacrifice, pain, and torment, it will always be born through suffering, sacrifice, pain, and torment.”
History is wrought with stories of artists’ suffering; it was comforting to consider creativity evolving from joy and love — instead of the agony that has propelled artistic works for centuries.
My biggest take away from the thirty-five minute segment was a question proposed by Brene — “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” I paused the podcast as they began to unpack the paradigm shift from the mindset of “What would I do if I knew I wouldn’t fail?” to deciding what’s worth doing in spite of success or failure.
Shortly after I finished the podcast, I was off the plane and reuniting with my sister, Tara — I was in Chicago to support her at the Chicago Marathon.
On Sunday, I woke up with Tara and walked her as close as I was allowed to the starting line. After we parted ways, I returned to her apartment and headed to Mile 3 with my older sister, Shelley, and Tara’s boyfriend, Curtis. Cowbell and rainbow flag in hand, we enthusiastically cheered for everybody until she passed. Once Tara breezed through Mile 3, Curtis and Shelley went to Mile 13.1 and I went the Mile 14.5, in front of the United Center.
The night before, Tara and I had planned for me to run from the United Center to Chinatown with her on the course, Miles 14.5 to 21. Tara saw me before I saw her (my strategy was to look right in front of me to avoid missing her in the crowd). It was hard for me to contain my excitement as we ran; she was doing amazing and I was SO proud. Shelley and Curtis waited for us at the Chinatown Red Line stop. At that point, Tara set off solo for her final push and Shelley, Curtis, and I raced downtown to be there for her finish.
That was Tara’s first marathon and her attitude towards the event was moving.
She inspired me with her focus and lack of egotism — Tara had never ran 26.2 miles before, she did not know if she could, but she did it anyways.
On our way to the Jackson Red Line stop after Tara’s successful race, I was reminded of one of my failures, as we walked passed DePaul University. I went straight from undergrad to graduate school at DePaul. At the end of my senior year, I applied for a tuition-free, monetarily-stipend teaching assistantship.
I did not receive the position; initially, the failure crushed me.
When I applied to graduate school, I envisioned myself as a full-time TA, completely immersed in academia. It took me a few months to let go of the sting, but by the start of the school year, I was excited to take on my hourly-paid research assistantships, investigating urban agriculture and community gardens.
The experience led me to Chicago’s notorious Fuller Park neighborhood, where I dug in the dirt and supported a community nutrition fair. After the research assistantship wrapped up, I received a teaching assistantship grading papers and I substitute taught various 100-level lectures.
Since my academic obligations did not take up the space I had anticipated, I diligently focused on my yoga practice and enrolled in and completed my 200 HR RYT. Shortly after I completed my teacher training, I worked closely with a professor to develop an ethnographic field study in Kenya, for my thesis research.
Reflecting on that specific “failure” makes me think of a quote from Ghandi, “remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
Tara’s uninhibited approach to her race and my positive experience with a past failure reignited a spark within me — I need to put more effort and energy into a project I am balking at. I’ve never done what I want to do before — launch an organizational communication and holistic wellness consulting business.
Thankfully, Tara inspired me to try anyways. And, I know it’s worth doing even if I DO fail — because as experience shows, failing isn’t the worst thing that can happen, anyways.