A while back, I saw this notebook while browsing at a gift shop. On the front was a colorful frog with the caption “A Leap of Faith Never Fails.”
Now, I love a good motivational message as much as the next gal, but I’m also pragmatic enough that things like this kind of piss me off. Because you know what? Sometimes a leap of faith does fail. Spectacularly. Furthermore, failure can be its own reward. That’s probably a topic for another blog post, but we learn from our failures and the next time we do better.
I had tucked away the picture of the foolhardy frog as the jumping off place—pardon the pun—for a future blog post. And then one day I was shopping at Target and I saw another one:
“The impossible is possible.” Seriously? Okay, at the risk of sounding like the grinch of happy thoughts, I have to point out that the impossible, by its very nature, is not possible. That’s why it’s impossible. Now I know that children aren’t going to start jumping off of rooftops thinking they can fly because they saw a notebook at Target that suggested it would all turn out well for them. But I can’t help but feel like airy-fairy promises can do a disservice to people.
(This might be an appropriate time to admit that my ancestors were German farmers and, while they would probably be okay with someone believing in themself, they wouldn’t be too keen on over-promising notebooks that fill your head with nonsense.)
Maybe instead of extolling the virtues of blind belief, we should be encouraging a combination of reasoned belief, hard work and persistence. Maybe the first notebook should have said “A leap of faith is a reward in itself, whether or not it succeeds.” And the second one could have taken a softer approach: “Sometimes you can can prove that the thing you thought was impossible was actually possible.” But those would-be maxims are nowhere near as catchy and would sell a whole lot fewer books.
Luckily, there are plenty of inspirational messages to choose from. Here are a few that I can get behind with no disclaimers:
“Be grateful.” Yes. Just yes. It’s simple, powerful, and easy to achieve. Plus, it’s illustrated with pretty flowers, which is always a plus.
“Do more of what makes you happy.” Again, I say: yes!! This is the kind of modest, German-farmer-approved statement that makes perfect sense to me. Well, okay, my ancestors would probably have thought even that was slightly self-indulgent, because they were too busy keeping their oxen alive to worry about silly things like happiness. But at the very least they would have nodded in stoic approval that it was do more of what makes you happy and not just “Do what makes you happy.”
And finally, there’s this, which for me strikes just the right balance:
Your leap of faith might fail. You might not be able to do the impossible. But if you wake up every day and be as awesome as you can be, you will have succeeded.
Marla Cooper is the author of Terror in Taffeta, the first in the Destination Wedding Mystery series. Book two in the series, Dying on the Vine, will be available March 21, 2017. She attributes all of her success to something she read on a notebook once.