You Only Fail if You Don’t Try

Today I’m writing for Five Minute Friday, where we write flat out for five minutes, unedited, on a one-word prompt. Join the fun with your own post or just read what others have done with their 300 seconds. Check it out at  Today’s word is Reach.

Nothing in my life has ever been within easy reach.  I don’t mean figuratively – I mean literally.  I’m short.  I’ve always been short, and according to the nurse at my last medical appointment I’m now shorter than ever.  The incredible shrinking woman.

I spent most of my life stubbornly rebelling against my shortness.  As a kid, I was something of a daredevil, trying to out-climb and out-jump and out-everything my taller friends to prove … what?  That I wasn’t really short?

Sometimes that didn’t work out so well, like the time one of my friends decided we cothesline2should use the clothesline poles in her backyard to swing from.  She jumped up and grabbed the cross bar, swinging wildly and laughing.  I jumped up and missed.  So I backed up and made a run for it, jumped and missed again.  She laughed at me.

Yeah.  I didn’t like being laughed at.

I backed up to the other end of the yard and made a mad dash toward the pole, flinging myself into the air.  My fingers felt the glorious cold metal under them for about two seconds before they slipped off and I landed at the bottom of the pole, my left arm bent into an indescribable shape that I looked at in awe for a minute until the pain started.  (But I got a pretty cool cast out of that deal.)

And so it went.

As an adult, I wasn’t much smarter.  I don’t know what I had against asking for help, I really don’t.  At the grocery store, every single thing on my list was always on the top shelf (you think this is hyperbole, I know, but I swear it’s true).  I would wait until I had the whole aisle to myself and then climb precariously onto the bottom shelf to reach what I wanted rather than just ask the man (or, more often and more humiliatingly, the woman) who had just been there two seconds earlier to reach it for me.

cans1Until the day a whole pile of cans came crashing down onto the floor and into my cart and almost hit my two-year-old in the head.  After that I humbled myself a little.  At least when I had the kids with me.

The point of all this is that I always reached for what I wanted, even sometimes to my detriment.  I never let anything stop me.  I was determined (also prideful, but I like “determined” better).  I didn’t let things, even things that were out of my control like my height, get in my way.  When my kids were growing up, I used to tell them all the time, “You only fail if you don’t try.”  I could always count on an eye-roll with that one.

I’m sitting here right now having almost fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I’ve written a novel.  I’ve had it edited.  I only have to do revisions and then pitch it and see what happens.  I just need to reach for the next level – publication.

And I’ve been sitting in this same position for almost a year.  Inert.  Hands in my pockets.  Revisions dancing in my head but not out my fingers.  I’m not running and jumping; I’m not climbing on the bottom shelf.  I’m not reaching for what I want.

Because what if I fall?  What if everything comes crashing down around me?

What if nobody wants to publish it?

But wait a minute.  I’m still me.  I’m still the short little girl who never said no to a dare.  If nobody wants to publish it, isn’t that their loss?

Isn’t the winning in the reaching?


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4 Responses to You Only Fail if You Don’t Try

  1. nickoleperry says:

    Hurry up and get your book published so I can read it!! I was going to throw a “shorty” at the end of that, but I guess we are not that intimately acquainted yet. 😉 I loved your post. I recently climbed up on a shelf in the garage to “swoop” something off a top shelf. It toppled on top of me as I landed hard on my foot on the concrete floor. My torn ligament was a result of my foolishness, sort of like your broken arm and your child like pride. But you know what, new friend, your book is not a foolish leap. I bet you won’t even fall!!! Visiting from FMF.

    • Susan says:

      Thanks for reading, and for the encouragement! And I can relate to the torn ligaments — I was climbing on some boxes in the garage when I was 16 trying to reach the Christmas decorations when I fell and tore the ligaments in my right foot. I’d almost forgotten that one! 🙂

  2. Paula Kaye says:

    I have the exact opposite of your problem. I am tall. I was always the tallest at school. Always taller than all the boys. I was told all my life to embrace it…but I never really did. And here, now in my 60’s, I’ve found it just doesn’t really matter. We are all alike on the inside and that is what counts

    • Susan says:

      Now see, if we’d been friends you could have gotten the cans off the high shelves for me, and I could have gotten the ones off the low shelves for you! That would have worked out very nicely. Together we would have been average. But then again, at our age we can recognize the gift of not being average, right? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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