Sunday, June 08, 2008

JK Rowling on Failure

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.”
J.K. Rowling during Harvard Commencement Address

When I ran across this quote today it really spoke to me. I'm at a place in my life where I feel like I've failed at many things. Most of those are things I feel don't really matter much, anyway, even though the world gives other indications. At the same time, there are some things I feel I'm very good at that I think are important. But, alas, the world doesn't seem to value those things.

It's curious to think about "failure" and what that means. I think it just means learning. I've learned that "failure" is something others want to attach to individuals, when the failure may actually have more to do with the environment in which you and others are working than it does with anything any one of you might do or not do.

It seems the world - at least in this country - values only money. Making money. Then making money from the money you made. So you have more money. The next step, it seems, is to spend that money on foolish things. I guess because you don't have time to do something interesting with the money, because you have to use your time to make more money, people squander it on $6000 sunglasses and other idiocy.

I like money, really I do, but I want to make it with my soul intact. Money is a wonderful thing. It buys me freedom, and that is what I want most desperately. I want enough money to buy my freedom to live, and once I have my freedom, the rest of the money can go to charity. But I need enough to buy my freedom. My sweet, sweet, sweet freedom.
The last few months I have been putting my energy into projects that feel "right" to me. This quote makes me feel that is the correct course. It's difficult to do that, sometimes, when the world is telling you you're making the wrong decision. Of course, the world hasn't done much to steer me right so far, so I'm not sure why I should pay any attention now.
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