That is how my life has gone since getting sober. I fail up. Before I got sober, I failed down, hard. Everything spiraled. Today, I fail up which doesn’t always feel better but it does land me where I am supposed to be.
Failing up can be almost as painful as failing down, but the view is much better. Failing up I can see where I am going and where I am landing, whereas when I fail down, I am just very, very lost.
What am I even talking about?
In order to fail up, I had to see the world differently. The world view I was born with was destined to only fail down. Meaning that my natal world view conscripted me to seeing all that happened to me and around me, as being some sort of evil plot where I never got anything I wanted, received a whole bunch of shit that I didn’t want and was destined to always and forever be lost, misguided and forlorn.
Failing up changes your whole world view. You begin to see that all that happens to you is happening for you. That every failure, every misstep, every fuck up, is really just helping you on your path to success. Success, of course, varies but in general you move upward toward spiritual growth and some sort of enlightenment. I mean, maybe you never become a Buddha, or maybe you already are...but you just evolve on a spiritual plane. And so all that happens to you, happens for you and that changes your whole life from one big ongoing shitshow, to a beautiful, if jagged path toward your higher good, spiritual evolution and ultimately to whatever stuff you are supposed to learn while you are here living this crazy, fucked up life.
I have come to see that everything that I have grossly misjudged, screwed up, not handled well, failed has given me the lessons that I needed to get me to the next right thing, even if I totally didn’t think that the next right thing was really the right thing at all. I always want the universe to come to me and tell me how it is going to be, gentle conversations with the world...
“Dear, sweet, Erin. So this man that you love, well he is going to have to go because there is someone else that is way better suited for you. So I am going to have to take him in a couple of weeks...just giving you a head’s up.”
“Thank you Universe. That makes me sad, but it really does help to be given fair warning. I will let him go when he leaves...”
The above exchange is not my experience! No, the guy is just fucking gone and I am crushed, devastated, and have a hard time getting out of bed every day. I have no understanding of what just happened, I do not feel blessed and favored. I feel fucking destroyed.
Failing up means that shortly thereafter, I can see that I am being moved in a new direction. Sometimes, I can even see it while my tight ass grip is being pried off one finger at a time. Other times it might be weeks later and still other times, years.
Life doesn’t really explain your trajectory when it gives you cancer. When it takes the love of your life and leaves skid marks all over your heart. When you don’t get the promotion you know is right for you. When you are sure that this ____ is what is supposed to happen and you get served a shit sandwich instead...
What I have learned is all of that is happening for you. It is all occasions for you to grow and stretch and move toward the beauty of the Divine that lives within each of us. To move you toward whatever beautiful, amazing, hard, painful life lesson that comes next. And if you are truly failing up, you can see it and feel it somewhere in the timeframe it is happening. And you can use it to find peace during the chaos, when you are heartbroken, when you are lost, when you are fucking things up on the regular.
Failing up means that you are constantly aware that this whole life thing is a gift. A constantly and unrelenting gift of pain and joy, hope and decimation, love and scorn, happiness and devastating sadness. And that you need it all to lead a full and useful life. All of it. And all of it is happening for you, so that you may evolve not into the person that you think you should be, with the life that you feel entitled to have, but into the person that spirit needs. And if you are capable of taking all the awful amazingness of life and seeing it while it is unfolding all around you, you are indeed failing up. Moving closer to God with each misstep, each mistake and each fuck up. God sees it all and uses it all to turn you into the most amazing version of you that there could ever be. And the best reward for that is living each day comfortable in your own skin, even when you are not getting what you want, it isn’t all going your way and the pain comes anyway. When you can do that, you are truly living by failing up. And, for me, it is the best and most wonderful feeling in this life, even while it sucks ass.