The Buddy Bench

I am often inspired by what I read or hear. Recently, I was sent this picture and explanation.

buddy bench

“This is the buddy bench. An idea by second-grader Christian Bucks. He noticed classmates were alone at recess, so he got his school to install this. If you feel lonely on the playground you go sit on the buddy bench, and another student will come to the bench and ask if they want to play or talk.”

This weekend, as Nelson Mandela is laid to rest, and families in Newtown remember those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School one year ago, I applaud Christian Bucks for his initiative and desire to make our world a better place. I am not naive to think this bench is the end to playground issues or childhood loneliness; yet, it is an inspiring start. With the media riddled with bad news stories, it is refreshing to hear of an 8 year old moved to action to promote inclusion. Mandela would be proud.

In fact, it only seems fitting to give Mandela himself the last words this week: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

The Joy of Failure

When most of us hear the word failure we assume a negative connotation. And yet failure is often a path to learning and ultimately to future success.

Take my writing career. (Dare I call it that?) I publish my blog posts without consulting anyone; I choose my own topics and edit my own work. Recently though, I had an editor send me some feedback for an article I’m writing. Though I expected feedback, I was surprised at how much. I reminded myself that this was an opportunity to learn.

Even more telling are the multiple rejections from book publishers. I know that J.K. Rowling had a dozen rejections and Stephen King several dozen for their first novels. We hear similar stories for Judy Blume, William Faulkner, Dr. Seuss, Rudyard Kipling and George Orwell. In fact, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time received a whopping 26 rejections before going on to win The Newberry Medal. And one publisher said this of the now classic Lord of the Flies: “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”

So, what does each rejection, each so-called-failure, teach me? After the initial sting, I gain a new perspective and a strengthened resolve to pursue a project I believe in. I strive to improve my writing and remind myself that failure is simply an opportunity to learn.

A good friend recently sent this short video (very short, in fact) summing it all up: Keep Moving Forward. So whether with writing or with life, I celebrate the opportunities that failure presents. I keep moving forward, gaining momentum each step of the way.