“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J.K. Rowling
There once lived a man, The Protagonist, who after a rather tumultuous childhood and an awkward early adulthood found enlightenment at the age of thirty. But it wasn’t until the age of forty seven that he truly realised his predicament. For he had been blessed with the ability to manifest his destiny, unfortunately, at a great cost to those near and dear to him. Our hero struggled in vain to be a benevolent influence but he repeatedly met with failure. Every time the person that he would try to help with genuine sincerity would end up getting hurt by our own hero’s actions. As if he himself was a manifestation of the old idiom: “The path to hell is paved with good intentions!”
But the eternal optimist within our tragic hero refused to admit failure and so he continued to apply the considerable faculties at his disposal to finding a solution to his predicament.
Of course, an easy solution would have been to opt for exile and fade away in to oblivion but given the responsibility of parenthood our protagonist had to take the path most travelled. Thus he found himself relegated to a surreal existence as if caught in purgatory. He adopted a stoic stance and tried his best to minimise the frequency of serendipitous entanglements with other kindred spirits. He bore the brunt of being misunderstood as a cynic and a pessimist while being also accused of being a narcissist. He was certainly someone who took pride in his accomplishments and his path to enlightenment had made him realise that self love was the path to salvation. So he was not inclined to become a martyr or a false prophet only to be posthumously abused by the very cretins that he absolutely despised.
Those few individuals who at least felt sympathetic towards his cause remarked that while he was certainly touched by Divine Inspiration his aspirations were thwarted by Satanic Whispers. And so our hero continued down the path of life as it unfolded before him; guided by his instincts and by taking solace in the courage of his convictions. As he approached the forty eighth anniversary of his birth he happened to reach out to a person who claimed to be a “philomath”. He was instantly intrigued by this fellow traveller and was pleasantly surprised when the traveller responded to him in the most favourable manner. As their correspondence grew by leaps and bounds our hero even allowed himself to be infatuated by the aura surrounding this new found companion. He almost started hoping against all hope that his prayers had finally been answered. Alas, little did he know that this tale too had a tragic twist waiting to unravel our hero’s naive dreams.
Our protagonist slowly realised that his fellow traveller was inspiring him not to succeed but rather to fail. And then it dawned upon him, “What if inspiration was not only limited to helping us recover from a failure? Instead we sometimes need to be inspired to fail — to lose the battle to win the war so as to say.” Furthermore, he remarked, “Of course, the game of chess is all about sacrifices but sacrifice is not synonymous with failure. As intelligent beings homo sapiens are biologically conditioned to equate failure to death to the point that the species had evolved to have an aversion to risk. On the other hand it had been the appetite for risk — the leap before you think approach — that had propelled the fearless adventurers amongst them to dream the unachievable dream and even come very close to making the dream a reality. So it would be safe to say that while the human society at large was risk averse they were equally happy to partake in the success of those foolhardy few amongst them to the point of even abusing their gifts for the collective good!”
Our hero was now faced with a conundrum: On the one hand he held sacrosanct that each of us must do our part in the great circle of life. And to that end we must live our lives to the fullest consuming what we must to nurture ourselves and then in turn being consumed ourselves by the next generation. On the other hand, this pattern of consumption results in wanton creation of waste that threatens all life on this fragile speck of dust that we call Mother Earth.
He wondered, “Why can human life not be a zero sum game?” Our hero reminded himself that migratory patterns of the North Atlantic or Pacific salmon were a classic example of a species that “fails” at one primary purpose of life by dying to reproduce thus then “succeeding” at the other primary purpose of life. Along the way they contributed to the survival of an ecosystem consisting of great predators such as the grizzly bears and bald eagles. “Why is it so hard to imagine a scenario where humans can evolve or possibly devolve to live in harmony with nature?” our protagonist cried out in anguish.
And as if on cue the answer presented itself to him. “We need someone to inspire us to fail — to stop and think for a moment — to introspect and finally to help us decide when to stop our relentless pursuit of happiness which is invariably going to lead us to our doom!” And he just stood transfixed as he realised that the fools who had martyred themselves for the silliest of causes and the false prophets that had renounced life itself had actually done the wrong thing but under the right pretext. “Who are we to try and force entropy of human evolution to flow backwards towards achieving an equilibrium with nature?” he cried out! “It might be the preordained destiny of our species to succeed at destroying Life itself?” And thus our hero finally found his true calling: To inspire others to fail… to fail at living a morally correct life… to fail at trying to stop the inevitable destruction of the biosphere.
Maybe, just maybe, by hastening the failure of our species, Life could succeed at finding a way to survive!