Right now I’m nursing some pulled muscles in my right side. I’ve been taking an exercise class at work on my lunch hour, and we were doing as many sit-ups, squats and pushups as we possibly could during a timed workout last week. I felt a weird pressure sensation on my back about halfway through the workout every time I did a sit-up. Did I stop? No. Should I have? Yes. Why didn’t I? I didn’t want to fail. Me. The instructors. My parents. Fill-in-the-blank.
Failure can lead to insight, which is what my aching side is leading me towards even as I type this. Must I drive myself so hard? No. Of course there is a fine line between that and throwing in the towel prematurely.
Back on January 11th, Ravenchild shared on this blog a link to J.K. Rowling’s commencement address (“The Fringe Benefits of Failure”) where she discussed how the very lowest of low points in her life led her to create Harry Potter. If you missed it, I highly recommend it.
Someone else whose life derailment led to astounding insights in the form of a bestselling book is Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame. I resisted the book for a long time thinking it had to be overhyped, but I found it rich in observations and laugh-out-loud funny to boot.
If these two women can take humongous life setbacks and turn them in to inspiring art… who are the rest of us to throw in the towel when the going gets tough?
So I’m listening to my body – always a wise move – and taking a break from the exercise class. I’m also using a heating pad, ice, Advil and help from my acupuncturist. In terms of writing, I’m gonna keep at it. No strained muscles in sight at the moment.
And if you’d like to hear Elizabeth speak, check out her talk on creative inspiration….
Elizabeth Gilbert on Genius