How Can I Rejoice In Failure?

Oh, boy. You’ve done it now. You’ve failed. Absolutely spectacularly failed. You want to die.

How will you go on? You’re afraid. You might make another mistake. You might be misunderstood. People might even laugh at you. There’s no point. You should give up, cut your losses now while you still have some face left to save.

Sound familiar? Anyone who’s failed at something (in other words, all of us) has gone through a similar thought process. We imagine failure to be the worst possible outcome. We strive for excellence, and instead we nose dive on the opposite end of the spectrum. We ask ourselves how we could have been so bad. We’re embarrassed because others are watching. Sometimes, we conclude that it’s best to just move on, that we should forget we ever tried. Why bother, we think, if we’re just going to screw up again?

We think failure is a negative thing. If I were to tell you it’s actually the opposite, that you should be grateful for and even delight in your mistakes, you might understandably ask, “How can I rejoice in failure?”

Failure is your greatest teacher.

We humans have this peculiar belief that we should be good at something on our first attempt. It’s as if we expect to be infused with the whole of human knowledge and experience from birth. But the reality is that any time we try something new, we’re babies all over again, stumbling around with stubborn and incapable limbs.

You weren’t born knowing how to read. You had to struggle with the alphabet, had to painstakingly memorize each symbol along with the sound it represents. You then had to follow along in countless picture books, sounding out the syllables in simple words, stuttering as you stumbled over sentences that might as well have been written in a foreign language. Only through years of trial and error did you eventually achieve fluency.

As the old cliché goes, you have to learn to crawl before you can learn to walk. Each mistake you make is a rung on the ladder of success, another object lesson that will refine your process over time. Your mistakes are precisely what teach you to excel at what you do.

Failure encourages you to be better.

Often, you catch yourself in a mistake and look backwards. “Why do I keep failing?” you ask. “When am I ever going to get this right?” But the problem is not that you’ve made a mistake, but that you’ve used it to gaze in the wrong direction.

Failure should inspire you to look forward. It should not be seen as a roadblock, keeping you penned in to an inferior mode of existence, but as a stepping stone on the way toward something better. Failure should be a source of hope, a way for you to gauge your success over time.

The person who avoids mistakes stagnates. He never grows because he refuses to push forward. Mistakes indicate that you’ve entered uncharted territory, that like the world’s greatest explorers, you have an opportunity to navigate something that was hitherto unknown.

Failure makes you humble.

It’s easy to be arrogant when you’re good at what you do. You’re often tempted to look down your nose at others who haven’t progressed as far as you, to regard with disdain the works of your “inferiors.”

How humbling it is then, when you’re forced to confront your own mistakes. They ground you. They remind you where you came from, that you’re human and that you’re no better than anybody else.

Failure makes it easier to relate to others.

The more you embrace your mistakes, the more you realize you’re like everybody else. And the more you realize you’re like everybody else, the easier it is to relate to everybody else. You begin to realize you’re only part of the whole, a single cell in the collective organism of humanity. The more you identify with others, the more you can operate in sync with them. This makes the world better, for how much more perfect is a body when all of its parts strive for the benefit of the whole?

Don’t fear failure. Revel in it!

Failure is a prize. It is our mentor and our encourager. It is the journey by which we can achieve everything we’ve ever dreamed of, limited only by how much time we’re given and how far we’re willing to travel.

Embrace failure. Revel in it. Make mistakes and make them often. Your future self will thank you.

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3 Ways Love is Like Magic

1. Love is elemental.

Like Magic, Love is irreducible. Its existence transcends reason. It must be accepted without proof. Love is to the soul what Magic is to the physical universe, a fundamental force of the heart that breathes life into all of humanity.

2. Love transforms.

Like Magic, Love begets change. It has its genesis in the human heart, where it transforms the mind and the soul so that their chief concern becomes the health and welfare of others. Love blossoms, seeds and propagates, taking root like wildflowers, invoking a spiritual metamorphosis that shapes and restructures the whole of civilization.

3. Love is self-sustaining.

Like Magic, Love is an inexhaustible reservoir of energy. The more it’s used, the greater its abundance. Like the miracle of the fish and the loaves, it multiples and grows, so that none might go hungry.

Love is, in fact, a unique species of Magic.

If Magic is the force that binds the universe, then Love is the force that binds the heart. It is primordial; it is before space and time. It has always existed, and it will continue to exist after our passing.

Love is our progenitor, our sustainer and our destination. In it we will find the meaning and the fullness of our existence, if only we have the courage to heed its call.

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Fear. It surrounds me.

I awoke this morning to discover that dangers and perils of every kind had gathered around me during the night, intent to do me harm. I look each in the eye. I swallow.

A showdown.

How did this happen? I cast my mind into the distant past, try to pinpoint the exact moment the trajectory of my life turned toward this direction. I fail.

I shutter my eyes against the inevitable. “Take me,” I whisper, “I won’t be afraid anymore.”

I wait.

Slowly, I open my eyes. They haven’t gone, but neither have they moved. This time I thrust my chest out more boldly. “I said take me!” I cry into the morning, naked and vulnerable, daring them to attack. “Do what you came to do.”


I begin to shake, not with fear but with adrenaline. A giddy absurdity overtakes me, and the enemies that stand before me are transfigured. Weapons, armor and bared teeth become plastic toys, children’s costumes and empty gums, flailing before me in a parody of force.

I learn the truth.

My enemies, who had been so strong in their denouncements, who had whispered of my destruction in the middle of the night whenever I dozed, who had vowed to tear me limb from limb the instant I ventured into the world they’d been guarding so jealously; they had only ever been harmless spectres, useless projections sent to prevent me from taking what had always rightfully been mine.

I stand.

I gaze at my aggressors, impotent and without life. I step forward. They shout at me with silent lips, brandishing their plastic pitchforks and red-capped toy pistols. I laugh. The sound is a deep earthy rumble. It consumes me, makes me whole.

The spectres disappear.

I am reborn.

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One Life Ends and Another Begins

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

On August 14, 2015, one chapter of my life will close in Los Angeles, CA, and another will open halfway across the world in Manila. I’ll step off my plane after fifteen and a half hours of non-stop flying with nothing but my passport, some cash and the few remnants of my former life from the States that will fit into two Samsonite Spinners on wheels, and I won’t be coming home.

How did this happen?

The short explanation is that I fell in love. Love is a curious thing. It makes us do things we would never do on our own. It makes us bold. For love, we’ll conquer the world. We’ll go anywhere, do anything, give up everything we have, whatever it takes to be with our beloved. For this woman, uprooting my thirty-one-year-old life in the States came as naturally as breathing.

I’m excited.

I’m about to undertake an extraordinary journey, shared by someone special. The Philippines is a beautiful country, filled with natural wonders and unique cultural marvels that can be found nowhere else. My girlfriend and I both enjoy traveling, so the adventure won’t stop there; together, we’ll take on the world.

I’m scared.

Just because I’ve decided to plunge head-first into the deep end doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. I’ve never done anything like this before. What if I lose my job? There are very few Stateside employers who are willing to hire remote web developers. What if something happens to me in the city? What if I’m robbed? What if I get lost? What if I’m trapped in a serious natural disaster, like a major earthquake or typhoon?

As a sufferer of anxiety, I always used to play it safe. Until recently, the very notion of being suspended in the air above the ocean for fifteen or more hours at a time would, for example, have been enough to drive me under the bed, cowering in fear.

But I’m tired of playing it safe. After dating my girlfriend for a while, with all the frustrations that long distance relationships inevitably bring, I knew I would have to do something extreme if our relationship was to have any hope of surviving. So I took a deep breath and I jumped. Life’s too short to play it safe. Sooner or later, we’re all going to die; it’s just a matter of when. We should make the best of the time we have and live our lives to the fullest, for not a single man or woman knows when Death will come knocking on their doorstep.

Life is an adventure.

Over time, reading and writing about everyday adventures changed my attitude. It turned the boring and the ordinary into something exciting and extraordinary. Once my outlook on life changed, so too did my desire to undertake adventures of the more exotic variety.

I have no idea what will happen when I arrive. But for good or for ill, I know that it will be an adventure.

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The Walking Dead

The magic is gone.

I’m not sure when I noticed. It didn’t go all at once. It lingered, even as it slowly leached away, until the universe had been sucked dry, a desiccated husk.

I wander a broken world denuded, a disinherited prince. There are no sorrows, no joys. Just a dull flat aching despair, my soul’s pleading cry, a desire to live once again. But the spark is gone now; there is no life within me.

I am the walking dead.

If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Age and the Loss of Innocence

There are those exceptional moments in life when you experience crystal clarity in thought and purpose, when all is as it should be, when all is right and good with the world. But those moments are rare, are few and far between, and they almost always occur when you’re young. As a child, you didn’t have time to formulate your own beliefs; instead, your world view hinged on the beliefs of others. The innocence of youth is a wonderful carefree time in which the mind and the heart are free from the burdens of autonomous thinking and responsibility.

Then a tragic thing happens. You grow up. You question. You doubt. The world view you subscribed to when you were young no longer seems to apply. You wake up to discover you’ve been abandoned in a hostile world that makes no sense, and you’re forced to fend for yourself, to scrap together bits and pieces of the truth as you find them, to piece together some fragmentary understanding of who you are and why you’re here. You toil in the dark without relief, with only the cold and empty void of unconsciousness for an interlude. You’re faced with the prospect of death somewhere on the horizon, yet have no knowledge of when you’ll meet it face-to-face or what will happen when that day finally comes.

This of course is a necessary thing. Without the impetus to search for the truth, you would lay on your back day and night, unmotivated, listless and without purpose. It is this very emptiness, this very despair that compels you to move forward. You venture on. You hope and you pray that the light you seek at the end of the world exists, that the faith you placed in this unnamed truth was not in vain.

And sooner or later, one way or the other, you’ll find out.

If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Your Core Beliefs Have Disintegrated. What Do You Do?

You’d always stood firm in your beliefs. You never had reason to question them, never thought you could be persuaded to the contrary. You were a rock, solid and firm amidst the torrential currents of human affairs. Then the unthinkable happened.

Perhaps it started with a question, humble and unassuming at first, but like a trojan horse it slowly and methodically wrapped around the contours of your mind like choking vines. Perhaps someone raised an objection you hadn’t hitherto considered. Perhaps a traumatic experience shook you to your core, forever altering your perceptions. Gradually or abruptly, you found yourself stranded in a dark and lonely place.

You never thought you would end up there. You’re desperately hopelessly lost, alienated from all you knew and held to be true. You have no map, no compass. There are no street signs. There are no lamps to light your way. All there is is darkness.

What do you do?

First, cling to what you know.

Your soul is a treasure trove of knowledge. You possess a lifetime of experience and education. You know things, perhaps imperfectly, perhaps even erroneously, yet it’s from these basic units of thought that you must begin your journey.

Nobody can make sense of the world without first having acquired a baseline level of experience, some fundamental understanding of the universe and how it works. In cases where your knowledge is true, or at least imperfectly true, you find a compass, some internal sense that pulls you in the proper direction. In cases where your knowledge proves mostly or completely false, you nevertheless find, after due deliberation, a compass that operates in reverse, pointing out directions you should avoid so you can find the proper path.

Cling to what you know for dear life. It will be your anchor, your solitary light in a dark and frightening world.

Second, learn what you don’t know.

While it’s imperative that you start with what you know, doing so is futile without the intention to press forward. The one who is not relatively secure in his beliefs has a uniquely grave obligation to search for what’s true.

Read as much as you can. Study history. Study science. Study art. Study philosophy and religion. Study as much as you can in as many disciplines as possible, for even those endeavors that seem wholly unrelated to the object you seek will prove relevant in some way. Everything is connected to everything else, because humanity and its pursuits are an integral whole.

Talk to people. Discover what they believe. Share what you believe. Discuss. Ask questions. Debate. Maintain an open mind, yet be ready to seize upon wisdom when wisdom is recognized. Many perspectives ensure many handholds as you struggle to find your way, slowly piecing together what you should hold to be true.

The more you learn, the broader your knowledge-base becomes, and the more accurately you can test existing beliefs. Education is a star in the sky whose light grows brighter and fuller with every acquired unit of knowledge, revealing more and more of the terrain before you so you can continue on your quest.

Finally, and most importantly, search for The Truth.

There are many “truths”: customs, fads and beliefs that various societies and individuals at various times have endowed with the dubious charism of “common sense.” The Truth, however, is an objective reality, waiting to be discovered. We were created to search for, to know and to ultimately love The Truth. It is the prize we seek from the genesis of our existence; it is our Purpose and our End.

Some of us in this life will only know The Truth imperfectly. Others of us not at all. But I firmly believe that if you honestly and diligently pursue it, you will be rewarded for your heroic efforts, either in this life or in the life to come.  Chase it relentlessly. Don’t be discouraged, and above all don’t lose hope.

The ambiguities, uncertainties and limitations of your finite life should be of no concern to you. The Truth is your beloved, your prize, the pinnacle and the fulfillment of your existence. Go after it with all your might, and one day, you will not only find the light you thought you’d lost, but an even greater one, a searing fire that will consume your heart so that you will never want again.

If you want to keep up with my work and to know when I publish my next book, join my mailing list by clicking here. In return, I’ll send you a free copy of my short story The Sign. I’ll only send you an email once a month and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.