FailBy Raymund Fernandez
Cebu Daily News
Failure is not an option” was what the bumper sticker said. Stuck in traffic once again. What can a person do but contemplate the absurdity of life, especially the absurdity of bumper stickers? You have to worry about yourself when your mind is talking back at bumper stickers. Worse when you know you’ll have to write about it.
But such is the state of traffic that sitting where you are has become an essential part of life. On a regular school day driving to and from school becomes a good opportunity for parents to spend time with their kids. They can ask about school and what kids generally think about life. They might see how they react to peculiar occurrences.
Such as the sight of a Citom officer working an intersection near the Capitol. In the distance he hears the rushing siren of an ambulance. He stops the traffic to let it through. Everybody stops except for a green SUV whose driver might have thought the traffic stopped just for him or her. You cannot tell for sure through the tinted windows. He or she might never have heard the ambulance coming. Was it the phone? The stereo turned on too loud? Unbelievably, the car kept moving. The officer had to rush at it holding his hands up to force it to stop. It did. But by then, it was in the middle of the intersection, the Citom officer less than 2 meters in front of it. And now, the onrushing ambulance has nowhere to pass.
Next came the frightful screeching of rubber biting into concrete. You could see the ambulance wasn’t going to be able stop in time. You wait to hear the thud of flesh and bone on metal. Miraculously, the Citom person succeeds in jumping backwards saving himself. He falls backwards into the concrete, his cerulean blue plastic radio spinning all over the road as if to give the scene the comic relief it required.
Time seemed to stop. It moved forward once again only after the Citom person got up to vent his anger at the green car, making as if to punch its hood in frustration. But he holds back. And you could see him struggling with himself and his rage. How close he just came to losing his life right on that road. And we would have forgiven him if he did something beyond just scold. We want to shout out the window: Give him a ticket! But amazingly he just lets it pass. Such is the absurdity of life that the most obvious often seems the easiest to escape us.
Failure is not an option. That’s what the bumper sticker said. And that’s why people rush to wherever they’re going all the time and incessantly. And yet, spending time alone and thinking to yourself works always much better than the mad rush. This, by way of moving us closer to success. The space behind the wheel of a car stuck in traffic is also a space of prayer and contemplation. The car is meditative space.
The better bumper sticker should read: Dying is also not an option!
We rush mostly to wait. And what does Paul Simon think of all these? Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last. Just, came down a couple of stories. Looking for fun and feeling groovy. Tah dah dah dah dah dah dah, Feeling groovy. Put that on a bumper sticker as well.
In the rush of life, we must give ourselves time to wonder if we are not taking the whole idea of success too seriously. This is not to put down achieving something with one’s life nor is it to put down work ethics. But there are times when the urge to succeed makes us lose sight of what all these is finally for. Not that anyone can tell for sure. Most likely, no one absolutely can. But the existentialists might have come closest to hitting the nail on the head: There is no purpose of life other than what we invent for ourselves.
And yet, while our purposes might only be mere human invention this does not mean we cannot hold them sacred. Indeed, they are as sacred and as meaningful and as important as we hold them, precisely because of that. They are at least as sacred as life itself. And this does not mean there is no God. It simply means that God has left life up to us as a gift. And since it is all up to us: Why should we invent for ourselves goals that would destroy us or force us into the mad rush or take away from us the fun of everything?
So we really must find a way to think: We move one step closer to achieving our highest goals right here behind the steering wheel of a car even if it has slowed down to a halt. And we must have the moral discipline to see the joy in that. Because life is a necklace of thoughts and dreams stringed as moments of a whole and single life time. It is precious jewelry. One bead of failure is equal to another bead of success. To a wise man who succeeds now just as well as at the end of it, they are all the same. But if you must fail, then fail always in a grand big way! The bumper sticker should read: Fail as best you can!
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