Yesterday I talked at the Blue Lotus Tent at the Woodford Folk Festival. I was surprised by how nervous I was. Here is a gathering of people committed to diversity in every way, culturally, spiritually, sexually, musically, artistically. Folk who are committed to caring for our environment, to justice between us, interested in the diverse ways of caring for our health.
What a fabulous audience of people to share the ideas behind our kit – Turning Failure Upside Down.
I felt like I was speaking to a group of people who might take a disinterest in normality for granted, who are already comfortably, consciously choosing their own paths. I wondered what they might take from sharing this way of reflecting on this… I was rewarded with fabulous questions, personal stories and people approaching me throughout the day as I enjoyed the festival to thank me for my talk. What an honour and privilege to get to share ideas in this context.
A couple of questions really got me thinking… they were in relation to when your failure is not by giving a priority to something else but by the circumstances of your life or health or age – something over which we have no control or may not choose.
Infertility in the face of expectations of motherhood for women, old age in the face of pressure to appear young and vital, living with chronic illness when society celebrates fitness and wellness, being a larger person when our culture presents slimness as success. These are indeed preferred identity projects in our society and when we are unable to achieve these we are invited to feel like a failure AS A PERSON. It may be the giving up on or refusal to see this definition as valid that is the opening or the turning our efforts to other aspects of life we see as equally or more valid.
It may be that in giving up on trying to live up to these unrealistic or impossible expectations is the step that allows us to ask the question – what am I giving a priority to in turning away from these expectations of how I should be as a person? What is more important to me that flogging myself for not fitting in with this story? How else are these values expressed in my life and actions?
So thanks for these questions and the others that got me thinking… hope this gets some of you thinking too! I’d love to hear where your thoughts are taking you!
Hope to see you at Woodford at the next talk – 12.15pm December 31st 2019 Blue Lotus Tent, Woodford Folk Festival.