Years ago, I heard a question that seemed very insightful at the time. You’ve probably heard it, too. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? The question is intended to help you uncover things you really want to do, but which you’re afraid to try — for fear of failure. In an interview today, I heard the great marketing guru Seth Godin give a different point of view. He said the better question is to ask what you would do even if you knew it would fail. That struck me as far more insightful than the original version. We ought to be doing what we know is right, not what will maximize our success or praise from others. There are some battles that are worth fighting even if you believe you’re doomed to failure. Those battles are often for love or important ideas or our children. Some things are simply worth fighting for — and the truth is that you might win anyway. Do the right thing. Take the chance.
The more I understand about myself, about human nature and about the nature of reality, the more I realize I’m a radical by the standards of both Modernism and Postmodernism. Seeing the things which I’m stumbling toward makes me an enemy of many of the core ideas upon which contemporary culture is built. It exposes the culture as a monstrous lie — like a dangerous infection that’s slowly destroying what human were created to be. My “inner observer” has always known that truth was found in the ideas of the Enlightenment, but I’m slowly finding words to explain what has merely been instinct until now. The Enlightenment was humanity’s great leap forward, but shallow and arrogant thinkers for the next two centuries threw away the fruits of that achievement. We can’t go forward as a species until we go back to correct this intellectual and spiritual error — and part of that is acknowledging that our collective attempts to do away with our Creator will always fail.
I’ve come to believe that some of us — including me — aren’t very good at knowing how to be happy. I don’t mean that in the sense that happy talk and positive thinking should be able to make us happy regardless of the circumstances. I mean that some of us had so much experience with being unhappy when we were young that we were trained to be unhappy — and that being happy is an unconsciously uncomfortable thing. When I look at times in my past when I should have been happy, it rarely lasted. I believe now that I found reasons to be unhappy — and caused real problems for myself — because being comfortable and happy felt so foreign to my programming. If I’m right, this means that some of us have to do more than just change our circumstances. It means we have to learn how to accept the happiness that we unconsciously fear we don’t deserve.