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Failure - Inability to Become Anything but Ordinary Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by mbonisi zikhali, Zimbabwe Apr 21, 2006
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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When a person finds that there are more curses from his own mouth directed at himself than at his adversary, that someone is a defeated person. When he is tasked to publicly dethrone his opponent, theatrically his finger points back at him. Such is the burden of failure; you are impulsively inclined towards mocking yourself.

You must have heard the cliche 'shooting oneself in the foot'. Well, most people execute this unintelligible deed on the eve of a deciding voyage. When they become conscious of the horror, they panic and in the confusion shoot themselves in the other foot. Then there are those who can live with the lie that feet were a burden anyway, and spend the rest of their lives learning how to walk with their hands, with the hope of setting off anew on their belated journey. Of-course they never arrive.

Indeed there is no greater pity than when failure compels you to shun a mirror. I suppose when you have failed yourself, you are gradually drawn to discover the folly of planting yourself in front of it in the first place. The mere sight of yourself is enough to make you vomit. How could you let yourself down so badly? How possible is it that you missed the bus when you had the ticket and how in the world could you fall short of recalling that you are the bus driver's son? Yes, the mirror is probably the last object you want to be gawking helplessly at. It can only stare back, as candidly as the truth of your mischance itself.

Failures come in assorted flavours. There are failed students, lovers, businessmen, mothers, fathers, leaders, preachers, musicians - the list is infinite. But they are all evenly pathetic. At some point in their lives they dropped their guard and all their esteemed possessions or prospects nose-dived into oblivion. Some fail so frequently you would suspect them of an irredeemable craving inside them to self-destruct.

What then is the source of such failure? I am of the view that it is the inability to become anything but just ordinary. Nothing is remarkable if it is commonplace. Ask a guy or a lady who has had an extraordinary lover about the experience. If you get an ordinary answer, you probably failed to pose the question correctly. In any case you are lucky if you get an answer at all. The guy will probably close his eyes, blush pitiably, brood reflectively for some time, before letting out a bland sigh. The words to define the extraordinary are that hard to find. They are manifold like the grains of sand that constitute a desert.

To be extraordinary means possessing the rare aptitude to steer clear of failure. In life you are going to belong to one of two groups - those who do what they are supposed to do and those who do extra. A Bhuddist saying goes "Man's extremity is God's opportunity". Being extreme is an attribute of God. The further you push your efforts, the closer you are to God's helping hand and ultimately, your dreams.

The Creator must have pondered intensely on the idea of giving mankind wings. If He had, I do not believe we would have been inspired to soar. That human beings have no wings but can still fly to the remotest corners of the planet at any given time or day is no craft of an ordinary mind. An American performance poet, Saul Williams says of an aeroplane, "I can think of nothing heavier than an aeroplane...I can think of nothing less likely to fly'.

Being ordinary would have never brought the world's myriad cultures into contact. It would have failed to aid oppressed people the world over in coming to terms with oppression and eventually overcoming it. Being ordinary would not have made Maya Angelou the first black woman to have a non-fiction work of literature on the best-seller list. If the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe were ordinary, there would be nothing astonishing at all about the way its waters free-fall symmetrically down the distinct gorges. Ultimately, to be extraordinary means to do things never done, in ways never tried, expecting results never imagined.

The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun. What happens today might have happened the day before. yet what happens today might be so distinguished from yesterday, albeit similar. Malcom X was not the first black activist and certainly not the last. Yet in the explosive era of the early sixties in america, he distinguished himself by extraordinarily spitting in the faces of unrelenting racists. The man arrived at such extremes as denouncing the surname 'Little' for the indefinite 'X'. He lived in such volatile times where you either had the spine to be an activist or an informer.

To be able to identify the appropriate alternative in an atmosphere where the priviledge of choice was discriminatory became a challenge to individuals who were extraordinary enough to turn their fear around, from the motivation to run to the inclination to fight. That is man's original design. Ordinary teachers create passive students. Ordinary mothers raise uninspired children. Ordinary leaders rule defenceless regimes. Ordinary musicians miss awards.

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