Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Failure Is Allowing Failure To Derail Your Dreams

Remember Hunter S. Thompson? I'm willing to bet that if you don't remember the man, you might remember the way the man ended his well-chronicled life. He killed himself by firing a single bullet into his brain nearly four years ago.

It was Shakespeare's prophecy that all men kill what they love. Hunter the writer was a talented, charismatic, thought-provoking artist. Thompson the man was a shrouded, dark figure by some accounts, capable of going places on the mental health map that are reserved for the troubled and borderline perverse. He was portrayed by several other artists, notably in film by actor Bill Murray and in satirical cartoon as 'Uncle Duke' in the popular Doonesbury created by Garry Trudeau. Thompson was reported to have told an interviewer that if he ever met Trudeau, he'd light the cartoon's creator on fire.

That's dark.

So what does Hunter S. Thompson have to do with me and more specifically, dreams and aspirations as they relate to the things you love? I love to write, much like Thompson did, although that might be the end of our similarities. I wrote a book and it was quite a ride, a lot of fun to be sure. The finished product is something I'm extremely proud of but the road to that reality was filled with some dark moments filled with doubt, angst and some thoughts that rattled even my sturdiest rails.

Today I awoke with a heart filled with resolve and renewal, and it felt like waking up as a high school athlete and finding out your picture is on the front of the paper. What recharged the spirit? I realized the last nine months taught me some valuable lessons, ones that I'd heard a million times over but never learned them in the context that I lived them in the first person over the past nine months.

Live and learn. Mistakes happen. It's not always about what happened but how you respond to what happened that defines you. If you don't love you, nobody will. They all seem so cliche and yet, there's so much truth in their statements. You hear these lessons imparted upon you as an athlete in high school and college but in the real-time pace of adulthood, they're easily forgotten. Young athletes, heed this advice: Ask, ask and ask some more. Don't rush to grow up but rather, take all the time you can to learn the lessons of those who have gone before you.

Live and learn? I submitted proposal after proposal to countless editors, agents and would-be publishers. Like most writers, I could wallpaper my basement in the rejection letters I'd collected, but like anything else, I never lost my confidence and verve. I got that elusive 'Yes'. The caller was point-blank in asking "Can you do this in 45 days?" I didn't know what I was getting into but I said yes anyway. This is what you want to do and someone's giving you a chance to do it. Go for it, right? Had I never tried, I would have never made a mistake. And I wouldn't have learned to avoid those pratfalls when I write Book No. 2.

Mistakes happen. If you know me at all, you know I check everything as a matter of religion. If the resurrection had a box score, you can bet I'd have a PDF copy of it on my desktop. When I got into college officiating nearly 10 years ago, I used to pour through box scores of games I worked that could be found on the Internet to try to gain even the slightest bit of additional information to make me a better referee or umpire. So when I found a pair of editing errors in my book that slipped past me, the publisher and everyone else, you can know I was devastated as a writer and journalist. Seriously devastated, so much so there were a few mornings it was tough to get out of bed.

Guess what? It happens. I see it happen in columns that are edited by the best and brightest on a daily basis. I know in my heart I know my material but I'm not going to play the blame game. How you respond to an unfortunate instance is what matters most. Finding out why it got missed is the most important part. Being a good teammate matters, too.

Does criticism hurt? Yep. Can I do anything about it? Nope, and I refuse to let others say a mistake defines me or my dreams. In the past five years I've lost my parents, lost my nephew to circumstances beyond my control and watched as a family self-destructed from inside out.
Yet in the same five years, I've become happily-married with an incredible woman, I've been blessed with great children, went back to journalism after not being paid to write anything in over 10 years, started a blog, got it syndicated by a major newspaper and wrote a book.

In short, I have a lot more to be thankful for than I could ever lament about.

I woke up today mindful of what I can do, where I live, who I have in my circle and the opportunities I have in front of me. I was gifted with the ability to do some great things. I can overcome obstacles of all shapes, kinds and sizes. Today I awoke with a revitalized spirit to do it.

All I have to do is keep trying.

~T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, available now from Arcadia Publishing.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home