Room to Fail


I stop breathing when I even read the word. Fail. It’s not allowed. Something in me shores up and says “Salvage it. Salvage it at all costs.” My breath stops short and I crinkle my brow. It has to be good. It has to be great. It has to be whole. It has to fly, run, soar. I’m the task master, the precise conductor, the tyrannical director of my life. Do it right. Do it well. Don’t disappoint. Show up strong. Don’t crack. And don’t let anyone know if you feel the ship is sinking.

But here now,with you, I’m going to invite myself into a warehouse. It looks like the one in the movie Flashdance — the one which, the moment I saw it those many years ago, made my heart melt with longing. Someday I would live there. Someday I would dive in — in my solitude — dive in to CREATE. So, let’s go into that warehouse which already makes me feel a little soft and quivery.

Let it be empty. Sure, throw in the ballet bar where Jennifer Beals practiced night and day. But other than that, let the walls be white. Maybe a few huge pillows on the floor. Oh and let there be boxes and boxes of empty books and canvases and paints and pens and chalk and markers and amazing images for collage and glue. And come in with me as I start writing on the walls. Let there be a ladder so I can climb up and write high. Let me cross things out with flair and start again and let the remnants of what didn't work have a place in the grand design.

Come with me as we sit on the floor and scribble. Or maybe let’s finger paint, hand paint, paint all over every bare part of our bodies. Let’s roll around in it. Let’s even get it in our hair and then forget about what most everyone would call the canvas. Let’s see what happens then.

Oh and let’s turn the music up. Loud. Let’s sing. Let’s dance between stanzas on the wall or paint on the floor. Let’s take a nap in the middle of the mess.

Let’s not say “Oh I love that. That’s cool. Oh how beautiful.” Let’s just sit with whatever we create like its a friend who we love that sometimes drives us crazy. We’ll always hang out. We don’t need to make a big deal about it. We just need to hang out and say something every now and then. Sometimes what we talk about will be stupid and boring but we’ll just talk ourselves out and then eat a big grilled cheese — maybe a brie grilled cheese with red grapes and thick bread and we’ll forget what we just did or said because the grilled cheese will be so gooey and good.

I want to hang out in my Flashdance Warehouse a lot more often. And maybe put on that ridiculous welding mask she wore so we would all think how incredibly cool she was — but now it would just be ridiculous. It would be good for me to just be ridiculous and say whatever comes to mind without the need to be wise or calm or perceptive-- just sloppy and nerdy and still talking about Flashdance 30 years later.

I want vast amounts of space to fail and flail and dance and rage and then just laugh goofily like all that dark wild flinging is just another drop in the bucket. Why do we take it all so seriously anyway? I just want to fail and flail, loosey-goosey, gorgeous messy, happy happy happy.

Big love to you, Heidi Rose


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© 2020 Heidi Rose Robbins

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