F is for failure
Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 11:52 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
Have you ever felt like a failure? I have. Like the time I couldn’t get home from the square in downtown Dresden. Oh my. The flashbacks are giving me cold chills. We had lived in Dresden less than a month at the time of the “incident.” Have you been to the square in Dresden? Let’s just say the traffic design is not easy for geographically-challenged newcomers to comprehend. Round and round and round I went, unable to distinguish which road would lead me home. Dizziness and dehydration began to set in. That’s when the mind goes. I finally pulled over in front of the courthouse and had a good cry. People who saw a middle-aged woman crying in front of the courthouse probably assumed I had been through an arduous legal battle ... lost everything in a court case or difficult settlement. If only they had known that I couldn’t get home from the court square. I fully expected to spend the rest of my days living out of a red Saturn in front of the Weakley County Courthouse. I could see the newspaper headline in my mind, “Recent Texas Transplant Finds Permanent Home in Front of Local Courthouse.” There would be a picture of me, with a dazed look on my face, standing next to the little red Saturn. I felt confident that a church ladies’ group would eventually take it upon themselves to start bringing food. Chicken casserole, homemade potato salad and some sweet tea might have eventually restored my mental health.
I failed my first driver’s test. I hit the curb during the test ... automatic F. Thankfully, I took the test the next day and passed with a flying score of 75. I know. Scary. I had lots of tickets and wrecks in my “younger” years. It all had to do with lack of experience, poor hand/eye coordination and an innocent disregard for that little “thing-a-majig” called a speedometer. Eventually, I got thrown into the insurance pool. Some of you may be saying, “What’s the insurance pool?” Rejoice in your naiveté, my friend! The insurance pool is the home for “high risk” drivers. It’s like a “holding cell” for all the people who have utterly disgusted their insurance companies. Once you’re in the “pool” insurance companies put you in a “line-up” and draw straws to see who has to take you. The company who gets stuck with you then charges you a house mortgage each month complete with a bill that says, “Pay up, Loser!” Yep! That was me. A prodigal teenage driver in a ’73 Gremlin.
I almost failed college Algebra. I have a theory. There are two kinds of people in life. The kind who naturally understand Algebra and the kind who believe they’ve wandered into a foreign language class. I was the latter. Only through the patient and incredible help of a gifted daily tutor, was I able to pass the class with a D.
Failure. Some of you avoid it like the plague. What a tragic mistake. Failure is humbling, but it indicates that we engaged life. We took risks. Maybe we reached beyond our natural abilities into the wonderful world of possibilities. Perseverance and patience are learned through the process. And most failures are only temporary. I can easily get home from the courthouse now. I’m no longer in the car insurance pool. And college Algebra? It wasn’t a failure at all. In fact, college Algebra was one of the greatest blessings of my life. A few months after the class ended ... I married my tutor. And God smiled.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.20.08