The past couple of days I’ve been reflecting on my failures, while resisting calling them what they are. You know, they’re “learning experiences,” or “steps along the path,” or “negatives that lead to positives.”

There haven’t been “quite a few” of these incidents. There have been a lot, a whole lot more than I like to admit. I’d prefer to laugh them off and move on, but that isn’t always so easy.

This guy looks like a Learning Experience. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

When something doesn’t work out the way we planned we have a tendency to put a tuxedo on it and invite it to the party of our successes. Except these tuxedoed phonies don’t fit in well at the party because everybody knows that Mr. Learning Experience is a sham. Hey, you failed. But we try to avoid saying that, either outwardly or internally.

In this Age of Political Correctness we tend to apply doublespeak to many situations: “intellectually challenged,” “collateral damage,” “nonperforming assets.” Apprehended thugs are “gentlemen.”

Gosh, life is just hunky-dory and everybody’s Okay. All of the time. I like the sentiment, except there’s something dangerous about saying what isn’t, is.

It’s not difficult to make the leap from doublespeak to George Orwell’s 1984 doublethink: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Golly, we can put a tuxedo on anything.

If we tend to name things inaccurately, I believe the half-truth or the lie will fester under the surface like a closed and unhealed wound. Ironically, nothing will be learned from the “learning experience” but it will always be there, contributing to our overall discomfort and ill-ease.

This is not to say that we can’t learn from our failures. We ought to embrace them. Find out where we went wrong, look for patterns, reconsider our directions, pick out the flaws and erroneous assumptions. One thing we can learn is to not do it that way again.

The best thing we can learn is to accept the events of our lives for what they are. When we do that we can laugh it off, and we can move on.