A Noble Failure
July 29, 2006
Last night I stared out my window for hours, haunted by the dangling cable swaying a indeterminable distance away. At first it was just casual speculation that suffused me a la “Hey I bet I could jump out this window and grab onto that cable if I had to”. As the minutes passed I began to intuit the deep connection between my worth as a human being and my ability to perform that rather injudicious leap.
The quixotic craving built to an intolerable level, the cords seem to thicken and sway with every glance, the anchoring posts slyly edging closer in inviting accommodation. If I could just traverse to 6 to 30ft that separated us I could leave my old life behind and live free high above the city. The laws of the ground dwellers would mean nothing to me as I shimmied along my web of power lines and bundled cables, casting scorn and sparrows down on the feckless pedestrians so far beneath me. I would be the arachnid pirate king of the telecommunications infrastructure, and no man, or beast, would be my equal.
It was with these heady dreams fresh in my mind that I flung myself, with woefully insufficient force, cruelly betrayed by my spring-less haunches, out the window and onto a once jaunty passing bike courier. I will not lie to you.. the physical insult was dire, yet meaningless compared the dreams that came crashing down atop me (and the once jaunty bike courier). The cable it turns out is a dozen AJ lengths from my window, and there is not a man alive that can leap twice six Valliants, no matter the poetry in heart and Gin in his stomach.
I am remind of few lines of verse inscribed on the wall of an art gallery near my house
“And when the fog had cleared he saw that all Minnie the moochers dreams of escape, after rising in that strange conveyance, light as down, had slumped back to the accepting earth, where they, and she, lay broken now.
He would have wept had he been able, yet there was nobility in the attempt, and beauty in the upward sweeping image of her departure that could never be cancelled by the fall.
He would miss her, he missed her even now, though she was there on the cool ground a few steps from where he had frozen to watch her flight.
But he would always, in his mind, see her Aloft. Alight “
I suppose the lesson I took from this is that if we fail with grace and style the end result becomes secondary. It’s the purity of our intent, and the depth of our conviction that informs our worth, not some arbitrary marker of success.