"What goes around comes around. I knew the day was coming, but I didn't expect it so soon. After so many failures in the past couple years, I`m giving up. I'm not going to try anything else. It's over."
When Larry said that, nobody was ready with a reply. We knew he was going through a rough time, but "It's over," was a totally unexpected comment.
Who was going to take the plunge and say something comforting to Larry: John, Mike or me?
Carefully censoring my words, I said, "Larry, I know when things go wrong the very first thought is to quit. But if we can try to look at what we have done, not at what we have lost, maybe we'll be able to see that, in spite of our harsh words, we have done a pretty good job. As every one of us learns, it's not over yet. No one wants to lose the potential of tomorrow."
"Listen, Larry," it was John, "failure just means that we are not perfect; it doesn't mean that we are inferior. From my experience, I can say that it's a big mistake if we make a decision during a low period. I know in difficult times people tend to lose their optimistic approach to life due to their concentration on their problems. Seeing failure as just a temporary setback is a victory for those people who don't believe in despairing thoughts."
Mike didn't say anything.
The silence was too long and uncomfortable. Larry left our group with this comment: "Preaching is not a good way to help someone."
After a couple of minutes, with a bitter taste in my mouth, I repeated only that one word: "Preaching?"
Had our intention to help our friend been preaching?
John and Mike were still in shock.
Had we lost our friend, or had our friend lost his battle?
"In order to grow, we must learn from all situations, as we make our journey through life," was Mike's comment.
"Oh, thank you for your comment, Mike, but what was the moral of the story for you," asked John.
"Honestly, I don't know," answered Mike.
I couldn't stay any longer with my guys. I drove myself home, with many questions in my mind.
Is the power of optimism and the magic of believing preaching?
Does the world need optimism or pessimism to overcome life's obstacles?
How is it possible to help a person make sense out of confusion?
Is telling uplifting stories one of the most powerful ways to teach values, or is it merely preaching?
Our intention to understand and help Larry was sincere and simple: We just wanted to tell him that having tasks before us, and having hope and support, has enormous therapeutic value for each of us. Overcoming and enduring the difficulties in life is our obligation. It's a rule of the game of life. The rule is not to win at all costs, but to stand firm and not give up the fight.
Let me make it perfectly clear: because of that rule, and because we lost one battle with our friend, I'm not going to stop telling positive, uplifting stories (or stop preaching, if you like). For me, I have seen the meaning of the story with Larry as just our intention to heal his soul, a soul undergoing a great deal of suffering.
We, John, Mike and I, had unconditional faith in our intention to help Larry. We all knew that sometimes, in a totally inexplicable way, people can turn complete failure into triumph.
I'm sorry, Larry, that we couldn't turn your failure into your triumph.
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