Look on bright side to start the new yearThomas Edison has 1,093 patents, but before he was known as a master inventor, he was ridiculed for 10,000 failed attempts at making a successful invention. “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work,” he responded. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs in his 21-year Major League Baseball career, but also struck out numerous times. Michael Jordan is often considered the greatest player in the history of basketball. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” he once said.
It is human instinct to try to avoid failure and the consequent pain. Aldous Huxley satirized a future where a hallucinogen drug called “soma” solves everyone’s worries and pains. It is an ironic expression that a world with worry and pain is one that is more fun. But if we don’t acknowledge failure and pain, we might flee from challenges and may miss out on opportunities to rebound. We would never experience post-traumatic growth - the positive change that comes from struggle. Like any other year, 2010 was full of memorable events and provocative incidents. We all shared in the shock of the Yeonpyeong Island shelling by reading newspapers or watching the news on television. However, personal pain also hits at home. People were laid off from work, some did not get a promotion and many flunked school exams. It is the nature of the world that life has its ups and downs. If a life is full of joy, you will more than likely become arrogant. If you only feel pain, you will almost certainly give up. There is no need to get jealous over those who succeed. You can find comfort in the wisdom of Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, who once said, “A straight tree is the first to be cut down. A well with sweet water is the first to be used up.”
Let’s welcome this New Year’s with hope. The reality is that no life is ever easy. However, there is nothing to lose by being optimistic. “Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles,” said George Bernard Shaw.
Let’s bury the painful memories of the past deep inside our psyche and celebrate New Year’s on a positive note.
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Ko Dae-hoon