So sadly in my rush to get about the week I failed to commemorate one of my own personal Holidays: Failure Day, August 2nd.
Failure Day, if you are not familiar, is the day that The Firm, the real estate firm I was part owner in, dissolved some 12 years ago. That was such a hallmark day, such a landmark in my career development - having left what I did to pursue a dream only to come crashing back down to the sharp rocks of earth - that I have chosen to commemorate it in my life as the day I remember all my failures.
Most of them, ultimately, have been purely and completely linked to myself and the point of Failure Day is never to castigate or speak of others, but only to recall my own failings. With the Firm, it was me not being willing to ask the hard questions of business (the "where is the income going to come from" question) and being willing to accept the answer ("No idea really") - and make a choice based on the hard facts rather my desires, feelings, and fantasies. With a work friendship, it was me wanting to get the quick laugh from people I did not value and destroying the relationship with the person that I did. Or taking a meaningful relationship and ultimately laying waste to it because of my own weakness and inability to look at reality as it was, not as I wished it to be. Chances not taken, goals missed, relationships that broke apart and never came back - all celebrated and and remembered on Failure Day.
In a way, it is like the Festival of the Dead in Japanese culture, where the dead return for one day to the presence of the living. It is quite like that actually - these dead dreams and goals, the deceased relationships, the might-have-beens that never were, all float in front of my face as insubstantial wisps of memories and hopes and aspirations that all came crashing down around my head.
There is value in the remembering.
The remembering helps me to think about the decisions that I made in those circumstances (looking back, one sees so much more) and where and how I went astray. It reminds me of the transience of so many of the things that were considered important at the time. It informs me of the cost of decisions, especially ones that involve the emotions of others (Dear Lord, the emotional harm I have undoubtedly caused over the years by my insensitivity, pride, and greed). It recalls to mind that the cost of hopes and dreams without planning and thought is far more than simply choosing to let them remaining hopes and dreams and continuing on in the present - which although staid, sometimes offers the benefit of at least doing no harm.
It becomes that one day of grief in the year, the fast where we recall Jerusalem before it was sacked by Babylon ("By the waters of Babylon, we laid down our harps and wept"), the day to recall innocence lost and the passing of so many things that seemed wonderful at the time but in just as many cases turned into the moonlight and ash of Dulcinea, never to take form or return but only to dust our face with remembrance.
It is not just the physical dead that can haunt us.