"Perfectionism is one of those traits that many people seem secretly, or not-so-secretly, proud to possess, since it hardly seems like a character flaw. Yet, at bottom, it is a fear-driven striving to avoid the experience of failure at all costs. At the extremes, it is an exhausting and permanently stressful way to live: there is a greater correlation between perfectionism and suicide, researchers have found, than between feelings of hopelessness and suicide. To fully embrace the experience of failure, not merely to tolerate it as a stepping stone to glory, is to abandon this constant straining never to put a foot wrong – and to relax."
Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote
The gurus of positivity and optimism can’t bear to contemplate that there might be happiness to be found in embracing failure as failure, not only as a technique for achieving success. But, as the Zen-influenced writer Natalie Goldberg argues, there is an openness and honesty in failure, a down-to-earth confrontation with reality that can seem lacking at the higher altitudes of success.
My god, life! Who can understand even one little minute of it?
Don’t try. Just pretend you understand.
That is very good advice.
Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
"There is nothing wrong with being scared … as long as you don’t let it affect you until the danger is over. Being hysterical is okay, too … afterwards and in private. Tears are not unmanly … in the bathroom with the door locked. The difference between a coward and a brave man is mostly a matter of timing."
Robert A. Heinlein, Job: A Comedy of Justice
"There are many shades of gray in the world and many times when the hidden way is best; but some things are purely evil and must be fought to the death."
— Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
"We are all giants, raised by pygmies, who have learned to walk with a perpetual mental crouch."
— Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising
"Most hearts of any quality are broken on two or three occasions in a lifetime. They mend, of course, and are often stronger than before, but something of the essence of life is lost at every break."
Robertson Davies (1913-1995), Leaven of Malice
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