Frogs, toads, and days of gold

Rock, water, and thoughts about failure


"If we are not willing to fail, we will never accomplish anything. All creative acts involve the risk of failure. Marriage is a terrible risk. So is having children. So is giving a performance in the theatre, or the writing of a book. Whenever something is completed successfully, we must move on, and that is again to risk failure." - Madeleine L'Engle (Two-Part Invention)


"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default."  - J. K. Rowling (from her TED talk on failure)


"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." - Charlie Chaplin



"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it." - Pablo Picasso


Some days feel like failures. Other days I inch forward. But whether toad day or gold day, I keep showing up; I give what I have, sometimes much, sometimes little. The rocks lend their strength, and the water, its quiet persistence.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”  - Samuel Beckett



Terri, I love these pictures of the natural world around you. It's strange how the image of water heals and also creates. We metaphorically wash away cares and worries, and the long tradition of holy wells clean the soul of sins and the body of ills. Creatively, ideas 'flow'; for some writers there's the 'stream of consciousness' and for Salman Rushdie there's a 'sea of stories'.

Terri, the photo of your feet in the stream makes me wish you both the healing power of water and also its creative rush.

I've included a poem where water and the creatures that live in it flow and play:


On the white lake
Of my page
A sudden loudness of words
And you swim into sight,
Otters of the verb.

You brighten the page
With the darkness of print;
Legs, tails and snouts
Perfectly gloved
By the tumbling thought
That flows from my mind.

Then you climb from the stream
And wait for the verb
That will send you again,
With a slick flick
Of the tail,
Down to dark depths,
then up to that place
Where sunlight and water
Refract into rainbows.

I love "Otters of the verb. Indeed, otters seem all about the verb. Great line, Stuart.

My own is a bit more prosaic:

The Persistence of Water

The thing about water is its persistence,
even granite falls eventually,
erased drop by drop.
Water does not stop its terrible commitment,
in drought it still leaves reminders.

The thing about water is its presence,
hanging over, rivering under,
depending from leaf,
thundering from cloud,
falling from rock, threading through mud.

The thing about water is its prescience,
hailing growth, predicting deserts,
the prognostication of flood.
It deposits its essence
democratically in puddles and pools.

It wears us down even as it holds us up,
like the sentence of judges,
like our children.

©2014 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

This is lovely and once again resonates deeply with where I find myself now as well. Thank you for sharing these encouraging words and lovely photos.

I continue to struggle between wanting a "normal" life of order and routine and the happy daily checking-off of boxes, and wanting an extraordinary life of creativity but also with that comes loneliness and doubt and, of course, failure.

It's nice to see a bit of you inserted into the photos once in a while as well!

The message of moving forward regardless of the potential failure lurking around the corner, the drive to live inspire of this fear is timely. This message coupled with the images and their own message of flow and stability assured in the face of doubt transcends the concept of fear. To be cleansed in that center of peace where you always stand but often forget.
Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

Hello Jane. Thank you for your kind words about 'Otters'. Your own poem certainly isn't prosaic as you claim, but it's certainly severe and bracingly bleak. There's more than an element of Old Testament muscularity about it that draws you in and holds you. 'It wears us down even as it holds us up/like the sentences of judges/ like our children.

Lines and words of power.

Failure/Balloons Popped

Meant to live in an ivory tower,
Safe with books in my bower,
Teaching children every week
How to act, dance, speak;
Dream of safety, a profession
Til lack of money made it's impression.

Wrote and wrote and sent them out
Flurries of wordage, each a scout
To return with rude rejection.
And after a while, succession
Printed and visible, like a dream
Like leaves floating in a stream,

Total strangers found me out
And still that fog of my doubt
Will this end? I cannot know
What it means. Kind of slow
But better with the odd descent
Fall and rise, without a dent.

It's best to speak, or even stammer
What might be muck, or glamour.
Is is a light inside us all,
You know that, the faint sweet call,
A story coming, a poem's first word,
And off to the sky, like a songbird.

Have been out and about so could not comment on the lovely posts and comments of a few days.
Wishing Jane good health again, and thankful for green green moor and inquisitive Tilly. Tossed in a
poem and loved Jane's and Stuart's. All in all a safe place here, and so dear, Terri's wisdom and all who
speak out.

Hello, Terri,
You have a very nice blog. I love the images uploaded here. I also think your dog is beautiful. Congratulations for all that.
I'll keep on visiting this place,

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