“It’s just life,” a 14-year-old said.
This was the ancient wisdom out of the mouth of a homeless teenage girl. She was living in a truck with her brother, her father — her mom died six months previously — and I think a dog and maybe even a cat or two. Don’t remember all the details.
Anyway, not only wasn’t she downtrodden, she was an honor student at school, was in the cast of a local play, had lots of friends, got along well with her family and teachers, and had a wonderfully positive attitude.
But not just a positive attitude, she was stoked. She was confident. She was determined. She was amazing!
I saw her story, and that of many other youngsters and their families, on one of those now prevalent television magazine shows. The story exposed the large number of students that were homeless — in California, I believe, but I am not sure — in both elementary and high school. Thousands, I believe the report said.
And yet, these youngsters were successful. Their life circumstances were not getting the best of them.
I actually remember seeing this story a few months ago, but this one has stuck in my head ever since. Actually, this youngster stuck in my head ever since. I meant to write a column about this a long time ago, the first time I saw this program, but I guess I didn’t because I felt, well, humbled maybe.
Humbled yes, and yet, maybe also a little bit embarrassed.
I’m still humbled and still a little embarrassed, but it hit home. I decided I really needed to address this issue in my own life.
You’ve heard people say before, “I’m not one to complain.”
Well, I am one to complain. A lot more than I care to admit, I admit now.
I don’t see the benefit in it, however. Complaining, that is, when I look at it from my logical German roots. Nothing ever seems to change because I simply complain about it. But I feel sure ... No, wait. I was going to say, I feel sure that it can’t hurt, but in mid-sentence I realize that was wrong. I realize that it can hurt, especially if a constructive solution is not forthcoming as well.
So, I felt bad. After listening to this teenager, her brother, her dad, her fellow students who stopped complaining and got down to business dealing with their lives, I felt bad.
This young lady was much wiser than I often am, much wiser not just for her years but certainly for mine as well.
So, I decided right then and there I would stop — well, I would try to stop — complaining about things I didn’t like in my life and I would take constructive steps toward trying to either fix them or deal with them if I couldn’t.
No matter what, I would try to realize that “It’s just life,” and I would try to deal with it as well as this incredibly smart and resilient 14-year-old.
To get some ideas and inspiration for this article, I did some research on the general topic of failure. In the process, I found many a quote on the subject of failure. Here are just a few that I hope will encourage and inspire. It did me.
n “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." — Thomas Edison
n “If you have made mistakes there is always another chance for you — you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call 'Failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." — Mary Pickford
n “Results! Why, man I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work." — Thomas Edison
n “When I was a young man I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn’t want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work." — George Bernard Shaw
n "Success doesn't mean the absence of failures; it means the attainment of ultimate objectives." — Edwin Bliss
n "Many people dream of success. To me, success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection." — Soichiro Honda
n "Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure." — Norman Vincent Peale
n "The greatest failure is the failure to try." — William Arthur Ward
n "Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." — Sir Winston Churchill
n "An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots." — Charles F. Kettering
n "You build on failure. You use it as a steppingstone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space." — Johnny Cash