My first column in The News Tribune ran last week. In it, I talked about my admiration for Pete Carroll and his leadership of the Seattle Seahawks. After reading it, several people I knew (and many I didn’t) sent me emails telling me how much they liked my work, including my high school English teacher Mrs. Koon.
It felt wonderful but also oddly terrifying in a way that I struggled to understand.
Apparently, it’s one thing to write along hoping someone will notice and that I will improve enough to be good. It’s another to have people watching for my next piece to see if they like it or not.
Then the Hawks lost.
Because of a decision Carroll made.
I’ve read the posts and talked to my friends about it. Most people say it was a bad call. They say Pete Carroll made a mistake in throwing the ball instead of running it with Lynch or, my husband tells me, running the ‘read option’ where the Wilson fakes it to Lynch and then runs it in himself if he reads the situation correctly.
“What’s with all the throwing!?!” one person posted on my Facebook feed. “Run the ball!”
I’ve seen plenty of analysis as I’ve tried to process and understand what happened. I’ve even read smart statistics about why Carroll made the mathematically best move.
For the record, I think he made a mistake. Or, at the very least, he made a carefully calculated gamble and lost.
When I saw his face fall after the game ending interception, I felt a recognition. That is what I am afraid of when people say they liked my work and are looking forward to the next. That. Making a mistake, feeling the devastation, and having more people watching to see it.
In a strange way, it helped me that Carroll lost the Super Bowl.
Don’t get me wrong.(Please, dear fabulous Seahawks fans!)
I’d so rather we had won and keep wishing for the Hermione’s time turner so we could go back and make that last yard with Lynch, the read option, or another down. Anything.
It’s just that something about seeing a gigantic failure gives me permission to keep going, knowing that we all make mistakes.
Some will forgive us.
Some will not.
That’s the risk.
The pain of that football loss only happened to me because I cared enough to feel the absolute thrill of the victory two weeks before.
My writing is a calculated gamble I’m willing to make because the joy of getting the words right matters to me enough to face the risk of the defeat, public or not.
To that end, this month I’ll focus on the epic fail. I’ll look at different failures each week. For Carroll and for me, I’ll look for stories of resilience — of how others have overcome huge mistakes and come out stronger for the struggle.