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How we deal with setbacks, both large and small, often determines your happiness.

At the very best, we don’t like them.  At the worst, they buckle our knees.

We don’t like setbacks. 

We hate them. 

We do everything to anticipate them.  We worry about them.  We sometimes become crippled by them.  We would rather not begin something we have always dreamed of doing, then fail all over again.

We wish everything was as steadfast as gravity.

Constant.  Ever present.  Reliable.  Dependable.

But gravity isn’t constant, ever present, reliable, or dependable.

It’s just our experience of it. 

When NASA sends men and women into space, they have to face the glorious absence of gravity, without which, travelling enormous distances to far unexplored rocks, would be too slow and a painful undertaking. 

Precisely to this set back, this absence of gravity, humanity will walk on Mars, relatively soon.

On earth, gravity is a most marvelous thing.

It keeps things, and us for that matter, exactly where it should be, but when it comes to space travel, gravity is most definitely a setback.

I think we shoulder too much blame when we fail and allow ourselves to regress. 

We are too tough on ourselves. 

The moment things begin to go wrong we whip our poor mind with the bitter slanders of I told you so, and there you go again.  At those moments, we utterly reject the fact that sometimes, just sometimes, things go wrong, or were never meant to be right in the first place.

Without aggression and the partition of Poland in the nineteenth century, Frederyk Chopin would have never had a love affair with the city of Paris, and we would have different compositions. 

Without major setbacks, Steve Jobs, would have never been fired from Apple, or met his wife, and the world would have never met Woody and Buzz.

Setbacks are not the end.

They are signs.

When you encounter a construction zone that forces you to take a detour, you get frustrated and will ultimately lose some valuable time, but I bet you won’t go back home. 

You will not drive home, call your work, and tell them that because you hit some construction, or some expectant traffic, that you quit and will never return.

Why do we quit so often?  Why are we so mean to ourselves, and hurl such ugly insults on our poor innocent mind? 

Why do we take failure so hard?

Is it somehow tied to our fear of death? 

Are our failures and setbacks, little indicators, that everything we build, everything we have, and everything we hope for, will be gone?

Death, taxes, gravity, and our setbacks, are just the realities of living.

We can either choose to merely exist or we could choose to live.

If you get struck with terminal cancer, you can either drown yourself with self-pity, or take the first few steps that that will lead to a Marathon of Hope. 

If you lose your hearing, you can either sit alone, in a dark room, accusing God of having spited and cursed you, or you could write the greatest symphony, you will never hear.

If you go blind, you could either malinger around, making your entire family utterly miserable, or you can pen the greatest epic poem about a Paradise Lost.

You have a choice to make.

You could be a Fox, a Beethoven, and a Milton, or you can be a mistake, a human setback.

You are not a failure.

Your setbacks are only roadblocks.

Don’t drive home and quit.

Take the detour and write your damn symphony.