I’d never been to Bettakultcha. I didn’t know what it was all about. The description sounded vaguely like a sort of TED talk which, coupled with the theme, was enough to get me through the door.
The importance of failure. Intriguing.
I grabbed a pint and my notebook, sat near the back, ready to quietly sneak out if it all went wrong. I was sure it would at some point. But, it never did.
Instead we were treated to a wide array of artists, entrepreneurs, and all manner of oddballs full of fascinating things to say and stories to share. Everything from lifesaving failing fuses to foiled umbrella stand plans were put on parade. Some wore solemn attire, others dressed more playfully, and a few came cloaked as optical illusions leaving us scratching our heads, wondering just which way to look at them.
But every point of view, regardless of tone, came back to one universal truth about each of us. We fail. Whether that’s in comparison to those around us, through lack of fame/fortune/confidence, or simply by losing focus, it inevitably happens. That’s life.
The question is, what next? Do we wallow in self pity and staunchly refuse to try stand up comedy after a poor performance? Do we try to forget the horrendous business cards that never brought us clients? Or do we gather up all those broken bits of metal that didn’t hold up under pressure and use them to our advantage?
After all, failure isn’t the end of something, it’s just the beginning of something else.
This is a beloved truth to which I daily cling as a writer/designer/photographer who just so happens to spend 40 hours a week on a performance art piece. To all but the most astute observer, I probably look exactly like a barista. But that’s only because I’ve not yet failed enough to be great and leave behind the shackles of my nine to five. As Ira Glass would say, my taste is killer but my work still disappoints me.
So I continue to gleefully fail, sure in the knowledge that all these scars will add up to something worthwhile, something that will look like success. Maybe not to everyone, in fact, it might just seem like a dark room full of smiling people drinking and scribbling in their notebooks. But to me, it’s right where I belong. It’s progress.