It Is Good To Fail Occasionally

I never thought I would be making a statement like that…it sounds vaguely memetic and that is really only one letter removed from emetic. But I have made a few blunders and errors in the last few months that have given me to think.

When I am riding high and doing all the things I want to, it all gets too seductive. I start to get arrogant and flippant with others. They generally don’t know it as I keep it to myself, but it still poisons my perceptions – both of them and of myself. I need a little failure to remind me that I am, as stated before, a plain bun.

Fortunately no-one got hurt and nothing got spoiled by my mistakes. It was a nuisance, but not a disaster. And I can do something that mends the faults in the future. I can also be darned grateful that the times when I really did mess up either did not get noticed or go through to completion. I think I got saved by a number of bells.

Here’s a final thought to send you all off thoughtfully sucking on the end of either a pen or a dagger – we often make ” B-for-Bucket ” lists of things we want to do in life to tease ourselves into action. Or we make ” F” lists to tell us things we do not want to do or people we don’t want to deal with. All good so far. We’re about as likely to follow one list as the other…

But how about making an” M ” list for yourself – call it a Muckit list – a list of mistakes that you have made in your life. You can make it as vague or as specific as you like, but when you’ve got the first part you should make a matching section that tells you what you’ve learned from each blunder.

Like the “B ” and ” F ” lists, the ” M ” list should be strictly hidden and kept a secret from everyone else. If they are going to see anything, let them see you getting better and better for a mysterious reason.

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Achtung! – Part Four – The Mindfield

Well, so far we have explored a number of ways to be horrible. As this is not a paid column I must keep some of the better ones back – they can result in money and it would not do to let this out.

But let us now deal with doing something amazing – making people think. You may not be able to make them think well, or think good things, but with a little effort you can at least get them going.

Remember we advised that books are a good mine? Well, they are, and if you select the right ones you can do a great deal of good. Okay, you can use the mindfield to get rid of all the marginal press that you have encumbered your own shelves with, and laugh at the thought of someone eagerly unwrapping a parcel that they have surreptitiously smuggled into the house…to find that it is the Road Boards Report from 1923. Laugh a minute, that one.

But who knows – the thing might inspire the reader to look up road-building on Google, or go to the Main Roads website, or ( gasp! ) go to the library and take out an engineering volume or a biography of McAdam. You might start a career in civil engineering with your mindfield.

Hard to say these days how limited people’s knowledge of the world might be. I have talked to perfectly sane young people of 25 and found that their schooling denied them any knowledge of the most basic of facts. One chap seriously did not know who Mussolini was…The discovery of a book in a mindfield might just supply something that modern society does not. Of course if the book is actual rubbish, like the quasi-mystical things that the new-agers sell, there won’t be much good done – but we can always hope that the inadvertent reader will recognise the valuelessness of the thing and fling it out of the window into the dungheap.

Note: I have rarely ever done this. The last time I can remember deliberately binning a set of books was in the 1980’s when I discarded a series purportedly written by an author called George Hayduke. It detailed ways to get revenge upon people. These were either highly imaginative pieces of humour or rather sordid encouragements to viciousness. I was willing to accept the one aspect but not the other…