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May 5, 2012

On Utter Failure

Fall down seven times, get up eight.
  ~ Japanese Proverb

There is a difference between theory and practice. I have come to the conclusion this is one of my biggest struggles in life.
In theory, I am a patient, compassionate man who responds to difficult situations without panic in a calm and reasonable approach. In practice, I am far from that. And often my analysis of “what just happened” creates a paralysis for what I should do next.
In a recent personal event, I found myself totally overwhelmed. When experiencing this, I hoped and intended to be a source of comfort to another, but by the end of it, I found myself worn out, impatient, irritated, angry, embarrassed and almost catatonic.
After the incident, my wife encouraged me with inexplicable empathy and kindness. (She is truly amazing and nurtures me in ways she may not even realize; I thank God she is in my life.) However, in this instance, her true and accurate words fell on deaf ears, as I was far too emotionally-flooded to even receive her gentleness.
I can hear responses of friends, perhaps even comments to this blog, who might say, “Chin up” or “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” But when truly disappointed in myself, the clownfish philosophy of “just keep swimming” fails to deliver…and not because it’s wrong, but rather because I know this already. It somehow just gets stuck on the theory-side of the equation, and I can’t seem to muster the strength to move it from that side into practice.
It is at this point when “I don’t know what to tell you” is a phrase which echoes in my head. For a few moments, I beat myself up with that phrase – angry, wallowing in self-loathing that I have become inert and the opposite of my self-perception. But somewhere in that cathexis, I breathe deep and stop thinking so much. I realize that theory is about thinking and practice is about doing…so, I forgive myself and start taking action – any action, just to break the cycle of too much thought.
Slowly I find myself, functioning again, letting go of the issue, letting go of the disappointment in myself and realizing this too shall pass. Once over that hurdle, life begins to return to normal. It is also the moment I realize how I try to “solve something” by thinking, when doing is often a more appropriate answer.
One day I will put this revelation in practice better.

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