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Failure and Recovery (Part 5)

The fifth step in the process is to recover. Depending on the intensity of your failure, this may not happen quickly. Recovery is a unique process defying prescription, but here are some of the ways I recover from failure. Nearly every night I put a leash on Honey-the-dog and we go for a walk. Sometimes they are short and sometimes they are long, but often they are a recovery period. I think and pray about the things weighing me down, and when I step back through the door, recovery has been facilitated. I also ride my bicycle. Most of the time I ride for cardiovascular benefit, but occasionally I ride for therapy. If multiple things have closed in on me, I pack up my fly rod and head for the river, or I slip into my hiking boots and disappear into the woods for a few hours.

One Friday evening several months ago Dianne and I got into a less than pleasant discussion (read, had a fight) about something I can’t remember now. I’m sure it was of national and strategic importance, like whether she had gotten the oil changed in her truck or not, or maybe it pertained to which Italian restaurant to eat at. The point is, we were not happy campers. We got our predicament sorted out , kissed and made up, and went to bed. I’m sure you have noticed apologizing, kissing and making up, hugging, and forgiving do wonderful things for the mind but rarely sink in deep enough—at least not right away—to calm the emotion associated with failure. Dianne and I were fine by the time we turned the lights out on our fight, but my emotions were still simmering.

I woke up about 4:00 AM, tried all the tricks, but couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I got up and went outside to sit in the front yard and listen to the mocking bird sing. There was a full moon in the western sky illuminating the yard almost as effectively as the street lamp on the corner. I set my lawn chair up on the front walk, angled so I could see the moon, and began sorting through my residual emotions. And then this thought came to me: I wonder how far west I could drive before the moon disappeared below the horizon?

It was Saturday morning. Dianne was going to a baby shower. I had mowed the grass two days earlier. Why not? I left Di a note and backed our car Max down the drive. I turned north on Forest Park, left on the Rosedale access road, and entered I-30 heading west toward Abilene with the full moon shining through my windshield. Within ten minutes the rolling prairies from which Fort Worth had grown surrounded my car and the lights of Cowtown began dimming in my rear view mirror.

In case anyone asks you, the moon sets in Ranger, Texas, or at least it did that morning. I stopped at a café in Ranger for eggs and bacon and toast (this is the place where the waitresses call you “Hon&#148) and then turned Max east toward home. En route I stopped beside the Brazos River just west of Weatherford. I walked along the sand bank in my sandals for a mile or so and sat down to listen as the waters discussed their inexorable route to the Gulf of Mexico.

I prayed some, and thought some, and listened a lot. I sat, and I walked, and I felt the warm sand flip up on the back of my calves as I walked. But most of all I recovered from the failure of the night before.

I can see it now: With the next full moon there will be a string of cars heading west as if the gold rush was on again. (Keep in mind: Following the moon west does not work well for men who live on the west coast.)

Preston Gillham

About the Author

As a co-founder, Preston Gillham led Lifetime for 30 years. Preston is a writer, speaker, and leadership guide. He has authored numerous articles and several books including No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower. He blogs on “Life and Leadership”. More about Preston, his writings, speaking, and his consulting practice can be located at PrestonGillham.com.