(And Why the #40 is so Meaningful)
A lot has changed since last May 2019 when I first published “I’m a Failure- And Proud of It” on the Startup, Medium’s largest active publication. Close to a year later, the message is still the same and likely even more poignant than ever during these unprecedented times.
One of the biggest changes since coming forward with my declaration of being a failure while remaining proud, besides how the pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down, is that I just published my 40th episode of Dear Family, the Podcast. I’m still proud to be failing because it means I’m still trying new things and pivoting when I need to, a skill more important now than ever.
The number 40 is a big marker of time and feels meaningful, maybe because it’s been about 40 days since we’ve been quarantining. Many of you may feel like your work’s momentum and life, in general, have come to a complete halt. Rather than feel like a failure and be hard on yourself, remember to speak to compassionately to yourself, the way you’d speak in encouraging terms to someone you love.
By now everyone knows quarantine is the practice of isolation to prevent the spread of epidemic disease. But did you know it derives from the Italian word “quaranta giorni” meaning “forty days,” the period ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Bubonic Plague, also known as Black Death, the most fatal pandemic recorded in history? At this point, we all wish we were quarantining for just 40 days.
Why the number 40 is so meaningful:
- In Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other Middle Eastern traditions, 40 is taken to represent a large approximate number, similar to “umpteen” or “a long time.” Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. The great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights. The Jewish people wandered the desert for 40 years. An ancient Arabic proverb states that “to understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.” I wish I could hear your comeback after sheltering at home with your family.
- 40 is the only number in English whose letters appear in alphabetical order.
- Minus 40 degrees, or “40 below,” is the only temperature that is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
- In literature, 40 is the number of thieves Ali Baba clashes with in Arabian Nights.
- To “catch 40 winks” means to take a short nap.
- 40 is the highest number counted up to on Sesame Street.
- 40 is the number of spaces in a standard Monopoly game board.
- 40 is the number of weeks for an average term of pregnancy.
Whether you are trying and failing at something for 40 seconds, 40 minutes, 40 days, or 40 years, don’t give up. Fall 39 times, get up 40!
April 2020 Addendum-
My family memoir has been put on a shelf until the time for its release is right. I’m now researching and booking my guests, writing solo podcasts, the show notes, and essays, using code and created images on my podcast and publishing weekly episodes to every platform, producing, directing, and editing every episode, and working as my own publicist. Had you asked me when I first published “I’m a Failure” if I would have been able to do all that, I would have told you likely not. The trick is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not give up. Oh and ask people who are smarter than you for help. Most people are generous and will.
Fail and fail often!
Wishing you happiness, good mental and physical health, and the willingness to fail often and flourish.
To listen to this essay as a podcast, click here:
I'm a Failure and Proud of It- And Why #40 is so Meaningful! - Write Now Rachel
Because this episode is about owning our failures, I'm celebrating my 40th Dear Family, podcast episode, something a…
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