Preamble: I was going to recycle an old post with the same basic message, because I wasn’t sure how this would be received. But some of these posts (including this one) we write for ourselves and share with you. They help Carly and me to positively focus our own minds or each others minds, something I must actively practice. We publish these posts so that you can practice along.
*spoiler alert* for those of you who have yet to see (and shame on you) the Dark Knight Rises.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the trilogy- when Bruce Wayne falls into the well on the property owned by his wealthy parents. As his father carries him back into the mansion he asks, “Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Flash forward to the Dark Knight Rises. A battered Bruce Wayne rehabilitates in an underground dungeon- a jail housed in a massive pit in the middle of some mysterious desert. The tenured prisoners who attend to Wayne, tell him that the only person to escape the prison climbed the walls of the ancient edifice. After having his broken back set, his broken ribs healed, and with some ghetto-style P90x under his belt, Wayne attempts the climb with a tattered rope around his waist. Climbing several stories up the walls of the pit, Wayne is confronted with an insane horizontal jump. He misses the ledge on the other side and falls several hundred feet until the slack in the rope tightens.
More rehabilitation and more calisthenics foreshadow Wayne’s second attempt. In an exhibition of courage, Wayne scales the walls again. This time, he makes the horizontal leap, and his fingers grasp the edge but slide off. He falls, and the rope tightens around his waist, his body breaking around it.
While he is training harder than ever, a prisoner approaches Wayne to tell him that it is not his body that needs to overcome the leap. Instead, Wayne must become the master of his fears. Wayne implores the old prisoner to explain more, since he is not afraid to die. That is the point. The prisoner who escaped was a young child who did not use a rope.
Wayne tries the climb one last time, this time without a rope. He scales the wall and attempts the leap, this time nailing it.
What’s the point? Sometimes we fail. Sometimes those failures are particularly painful, and we break around the rope that is holding us off the ground. We can take the lessons we learned from that attempted climb and keep them in our mind for motivation during the next climb. With new focus and strength from our training, we can make another valiant attempt. But we can fall again, and if we know the rope will be there to catch us, then we are likely to rely on it, even just a little. And it is that reliance, that expectation that things will be okay if we fail again, that stop us from achieving our goals. Our safety net, the insurance of our well-being, becomes our hinderance. The dual-edge to the sword is that our fear of failure, knowing that all could be lost, is sometimes the motivation we need to accomplish the seemingly impossible. It is in knowing that failure is not an option that we are most likely to find success.
“Why do we fall, Bruce? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”