when failure isn’t an option

My college roommate and I were in the same sorority, and our “little sisters” were roommates with each other, too. The four of us became good friends, we were in each other’s weddings, had baby showers when our children were born, and that closeness has lasted through many years. Even though we each live in different places, and have led quite diverse lives, when we get together we still share a camaraderie for which we are ever thankful.

A few years ago we visited the Eastern Shore where one of our group lives. We shopped in Annapolis, Baltimore, and St. Michaels, and it seemed that everywhere we browsed we saw a similar saying on plaques, boxes, and charms.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

As the acting quizmaster of the group (my son can vouch for my skill in asking questions), I brought this up to my friends as we were talking one evening. “Everywhere we go I see the same quote, so I am wondering how you each would answer this question?”

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Of course there was a pause in the group, and no one jumped in with an answer immediately. Not being deterred, I went on. “Isn’t there something you’d like to do but you are a bit afraid of not succeeding with it? What if you had a guarantee that it would work out well in the end?  What would you want to do?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

My “little sis” was the first to reply. She had worked in a variety of jobs and companies through the years, yet she had never quite found her niche. Her answer was not surprising. “I would own my own business,” she said. “And it would be a success. Hopefully I would make plenty of money, but above all I would be fulfilled.”

“Your experience would be so helpful and you’d know just what to do,” we said.  “Go for it!”

My roommate was the next to offer her answer.  She had taught school briefly, but had quit to raise four children. They had been homeschooled for some of their school years, and she was very involved with their sporting activities. Her husband had grown up in our college town and was a banker and community leader. Together they helped establish the local YMCA there, where she and her family continued to live after we all finished school.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

“I would be involved in politics,” she stated quietly. “What?” we chorused as we looked at her incredulously. We had no idea she had these aspirations. “Seriously?” I asked.  “Well, maybe not me running for office,” she went on, “but I would like to keep up with current issues and maybe run a campaign or something. I want to be involved with making our country a better place than it has come to be today.”

“That’s a great idea. You should go for it. You’d be perfect – and you could keep us informed and accountable, too.” we decided.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

There was more quiet, and I knew that I should share my thoughts then, since I had started this whole conversation. It wasn’t easy to put my dreams into words, but these were my dear friends, and maybe saying the words might be the first action step in making those dreams come true. “I’d like to write a children’s book,“  I offered. “There are so many books that I love, with just the right words and the perfect pictures, I would like to make a book like that, one that is special to someone. Maybe someday,” I pondered.

“Of course you can,” they chimed in. “We’d be the first to buy it, too.”

The last person on our group was still silent. She’s the one who had said in college that she wanted to live in Washington, D.C. and be the head of a government agency one day – and that’s exactly what she was doing. She had raised her two children successfully after her divorce, and owned a beautiful historic home in a peaceful small town where she knew everyone and had a very happy life. Maybe she had already done everything she ever wanted to do. Perhaps the thought of failure had never crossed her mind.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

“I’d like to get married again,” she said softly. “I don’t have anyone in mind right now, but I’d like to see if I can do better the next time around. Sometimes I do get lonely.”

This was not what we expected at all, but we smiled. “He’d be a lucky man,” we said honestly. “Lucky indeed to have you.”

These events happened several years ago, but I’ll never forget the candor of it all. It’s a rare thing to have friends that you can bare your soul to and feel better about it afterwards. We have never really talked about it since, but I think it bound us even closer together to see inside each other’s thoughts and know more about what dreams we hold dear.

And by the way, my little sis does own her own business, and my roommate is very involved with keeping up with political trends and candidates. My other friend is in a “permanent relationship” that  makes her very happy, and who knows, maybe I will write that children’s book one day after all.

2 thoughts on “when failure isn’t an option

  1. pamelahodges says:

    What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

    I loved the repetition of this question. The story has so many levels, as the time spend together was several years ago, and you can tell us what happened to each woman.
    Do you have a rough draft of your story yet?
    Now I will spend today thinking of the answer to your question.

  2. BethHart says:

    You CAN write a children’s book, and you will not fail because you have the passion, ability, drive, and much more to make it happen! And I will be the first to buy it… the college gals will be a close second!

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