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  • Paul Serran

The Art of Failing

This last week I was speaking to an old friend, and I said to him that, during college, I very much resented him for his lack of ambition. This is quite the heavy thing to say, even to an old friend. But I knew that he is a very bright fellow, who loves the truth more than he loves himself.


He readily agreed with me. I noted that the said lack of ambition was only reprehensible in regard to his great potential. To untalented people, I told him, lack of ambition amounts to a display of self-awareness that is very laudable. But not him!


In Brazil, we say that "a single swallow does not a summer make." And, in the college, I looked around me and he was the only other guy that could one day be a writer. Many other guys and girls developed into efficient teachers and talented cogs in the MSM gear. But when it came to really developing a voice, it was him, or me, or fucking silence.


And man, it was silence for quite a while. My chaos of a career went peaks and troughs, and eventually valleys and abyss. My over-ambition wasn't getting me anywhere. I made a lot of TV, which equals to say I played a lot of piano in the whorehouse.


I did write a novel. That much has to be said in my favor. I went out there and came back with a real novel. That's like the 12 labors of Hercules.

Nothing happened. The complete, absolute lack of boost in my career provided by the book release convinced me that no one reads anymore - and they were not about to open an exception for me.


I vowed never to write a book again. I bought a guitar. I made a lot of bad choices. I destroyed my family. I was a fucking wreck.


And my friend seemed to be doing just fine. But was he? Well, compared to me, everyone was. But the fact is that, determined to take all the safe paths, my dear friend has spent a big chunk of his life working for people that are much less bright and able than he is. And that, he has let me know, is not an enviable fate.


While this revolution has really saved me, and has given me a sense of purpose like never before, it also has made me work 36 hours a day, 9 days a week. That can be uncomfortable, of course, but it has also put my writing chops to 2 years of boot camp - and now, I can write ten times better than ever, and my creative powers are always ready to rock at a moment's call.


(To exemplify: just now I was very tired of writing and producing my Pencil Neck thread for tomorrow, so *I came to write a whole blog post* to rest my mind. That's how *in the zone* I am.)


So, now, my friend is sick and tired of carrying moronic ineffective employers on his back, and contemplates change. The people around him are all urging him to do it, since it is patently ridiculous that he not have a much higher position in his chosen industry.

But change is dangerous, and carries the danger of failure. My fear is that my friend is too unaccustomed to fail. And I am the absolute master at it. I failed in twice more professions than most people will even attempt in their lives.


I wish I could go out and fail for my friend a couple of times, so he could proceed sure in his journey. But I guess each of us has to be the hero of our own sagas.


Just because a song is in order, I chose this one by Mark Knopfler, where an old painter urges the young buck to 'Let it All Go', and forfeit artistic ambition, get a job with a pension. An old man who would, himself, "kill to get crimson in this pallet knife".


Rio de Janeiro, November 15th, 2019.

Paul Serran

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© 2019 BY PAUL SERRAN - Rio de Janeiro / Brazil