Failing Forward: A Lesson Learned From Repeatedly Learning Nothing

failing forward stomach flu be like andy gill patheos


This morning I felt as if I was Tom Hanks character from the Cast Away the morning after being rescued. Obviously, I haven’t been stranded on a remote island bordering dementia while using a bloodstained volleyball for emotional connection.

But, I did have the “norovirus” (a.k.a. the stomach flu).

Which is basically the same thing.

Either way, I’ve noticed a trend, a sort of pattern in my life, if you will, in the last 3-5 years or so. Around the same time Spring is swinging around the corner I get sick. You know, those days in which the weather is warming, oscillating in and out of “it’s-65-degrees-and-spring-has-arrived” to “just-kidding-it’s-going-to-snow-tomorrow-morning…” type of weather.

schizophrenic weather andy gill

case in point.

In my defense, nobodies body can take this weather, but mostly, admittedly, it wasn’t the weather, it was that I’ve just lacked the foresight to take care of myself properly; you know, by resting when necessary, and eating enough with consistency, going to bed on time, etc.

It’s a toxic-state-of-being in which I’m constantly in “survival mode.” Year after year after year. And, as a direct result I am [unnecessarily] frying my adrenal glands, weakening my immune system, turning off my executive functions, and then slowly, steadily, and then all at once, crashing and burning.

This is about where I’d insert that pithy platitudinal quote from Einstein telling us what insanity is… you know the rest, so I’ll spare you the thought and skip straight to my point…

We genuinely, as a human species seem to learn nothing as we’re knowingly repeating the same patterns over and over and over again. You can literally read similar sentiments I’ve written here, here, and here for the last three years… At this point, I’m not even embarrassed. But, what is it in life that makes healthy routines, rituals and habits so tough to do with consistency?

Perhaps, for me, this is the last remnant of extended adolescence on its way out, a direct result from the influx of information vying for our attention (e.g. clickbait, social media, etc), or just a means of what it is for us to be human (60% of the time, every time, the answers always “all of the above,” am I right, though?).

Here’s the thing: if you want change, sometimes, however painful, you gotta jam a spoke into the wheel. Our bodies, they weren’t meant to constantly live in survival mode; our minds simply can’t take the weight.

It’s time for all this ish to stop, allow myself to breathe in, and then still have plenty of time to breathe out. I mean, hypothetically speaking, if heaven is not real, and eternity isn’t a thing, and this is all we have, then, what the f*ck am I doing with my life, right now?

I don’t got time for this.

None of us do.

But, it starts with the simple question: What’s stopping you? 

Despite the differences in which we might all share, I bet that the one thing in which we all have in common is that we all want to make the most out of the life we have today. So, what has to happen for you to finally write that book? What obstacle do you need to work around in order to move closer towards your dream job (or, at least one in which you’re not miserable in)?

What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” 

Anne Lamott

The take away from all of this is that nobody knows what they’re doing in this life; we’re all just aimlessly wondering about trying to do our best while spectacularly failing. But, it’s just those of us that are courageous enough to allow ourselves the grace and permission to fail freely, who’ll also find meaning by failing forward.

[head over to my Facebook and you can check out my three goals and focuses for the next 90-days; over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be putting out some videos of my failing forward]
[image is a screenshot from the movie Cast Away]
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About Andy Gill

Andy Gill has studied theology for two years in Princeton and graduating from Eastern University stepped into pastoral ministry in southern California. His passion is to communicate on topics such as the pursuit of justice, equality, and how that interacts with one’s faith and theology. Currently he resides in Philadelphia and works with youth. He consults and utilizes social media as medium to share these messages. Andy has been featured on sites such as RELEVANT Magazine, Red Letter Christians, ThoughtCatalog, and various other platforms. You can find him tweeting daily, and writing weekly at his personal blog - feel free to follow along by liking his Facebook page.