My heart was heavy; it felt like I had a big ol’ rock in my stomach as I plopped myself down on the hard concrete steps inside our garage. In my hand was the limp, lifeless body of a poor baby chick.
Just 2 minutes ago, she had been happy, healthy, and thriving — along with her 18 other fluffy little nestmates. But all that changed when my wet hands slipped and accidentally dropped the 1/2 gallon water jug I was replacing.
She didn’t even have a chance to get out of the way…
In an instant, the makeshift brooder erupted with the noise of flapping little wings, scuffling little feet, and terrified little peeps. And in the very center of it all, thrashed the poor little victim. I quickly scooped her up and tried frantically to comfort her violent spasms — but after a minute or two of fruitlessly trying to revive her, the end came. I watched helplessly as the light faded from her shiny black eyes.
With a tired sigh, I gently laid the little broken body down on the concrete at my feet — and then buried my face in my hands.
I wasn’t crying. (A grown man doesn’t cry over something like that). But I did feel exhausted; it’d been a long day. Well past my bedtime. And moreover, I felt like a failure.
It’s hard not to beat yourself up over something like that.
And beat myself up I did. (Ain’t nobody deals out a beatin’ as good as me). I just sat there, staring at my shoes, and thinking of all my other recent failures.
The zucchini succumbed to cutter-worms back in July.
One by one throughout the summer, the pumpkins and winter squash plants yellowed, shriveled up, and died on me (I’m still pretty perplexed about all that).
The beans… well… they’re pretty much a total failure this year.
And then there was that freak thunderstorm/microburst that came through and FLATTENED about 1/3 of our cornstalks
(But then the neighbor’s cows got loose and made all sorts of havoc in the garden).
And just a couple days ago, while attempting my first-ever batch of goat cheddar, the homemade cheese-press toppled off the kitchen counter, shattering one of our floor tiles!
It’s funny how one isolated failure always seems to drum up memories of past failures as well. They just seem to pile up, one on top of the other, until everything seems like a failure.
Misery loves company, I guess…
But y’know something that chases away misery?
My sweetheart, Lindsey, quietly walked over to me and sat down by my side. She’d been in the garage the whole time, of course, helping me take care of the chicks. And unfortunately, she’d witnessed the whole thing. She didn’t say anything though. She just sat down and pulled me into a hug. One of those gentle, yet fierce “I-don’t-care-what-you-say,-I-love-you-and-you’re-NOT-a-doofus” sort of hugs. And suddenly, things started looking up again.
I was reminded, once again, that it’s OKAY to fail. Mistakes happen. Sometimes you lose. There will be times when everything you touch seems to wither. Heck, even when you’re doing everything right, sometimes you still lose.
But, on the other hand, sometimes you win.
(I gotta keep reminding myself about that crazy-amazing pea crop we harvested earlier this summer).
Basically, what I’m getting at is that life is made of ups and downs. That’s what life IS, man! Just like one of those fancy-pants heart monitors at the hospital, the peaks and the valleys are an indicator that you’re still alive.
(‘Cuz nobody wants to be flat-lining it, right?)
Wins come, and so do losses. I guess the real trick to it all is to be grateful for the ride!