“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
-Japanese proverb

I’ve been trying to play the guitar proficiently since I was in high school. I’ve had four teachers scattered over the years. I’ve read books and studied YouTube series. At several points along the way, I put the guitar down and walked away, too frustrated to keep hacking away at it. I even sold my only guitar at one point. For a long time, I’d make incremental progress but never enough consistently to feel like I was getting anywhere. Have you ever felt that way about something?

Through all of it, though, the dream stayed alive. Sometimes it was a siren’s call, whispered sweetly in my ear, sometime it felt more urgent, reminding me there isn’t time for everything in this short life and if it’s important, I’d better get to it. And I’d pick it up for a few weeks, a few months, and then put it back down, frustrated, stuck or simply not dedicating the time I needed to get better.

Since the fall though, I’ve played more consistently, broken through some of the areas that have really confounded me before and am studying with a very talented teacher.

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

I don’t know if this is my eighth time getting up playing the guitar- it sure feels like it. But it’s a metaphor, right? You have to keep standing up after failure and try again. Success is just standing up every time you fall. Eventually, hopefully, the falling becomes less frequent and finally you find yourself standing strong.

I sold Mary Kay for a while if you can believe that. Like every direct sales company, they had their own set of sales-y platitudes – one of my team leader’s favorites was “Every no is one step closer to a yes.” Any kind of sales is based on numbers, right? So every time someone says no to you, that’s one more number you can check off ony our way to a sale.

Now sometimes the number of getting back up is 8, sometimes is 75,008.  And you have to make the call if you want to continue to keep getting up and trying again.  In the case of Mary Kay, I decided that wasn’t where I wanted to spend my energy.  I’m not really much of a skin care and cosmetics girl, you know? But boy, I really want to play my guitar at a bar sometime.

What’s worth falling for over and over again? Only you can ultimately decide that.

Life is a series of falling down seven, getting up eight and truthfully, once we master something, we move on to the next thing, don’t we? We don’t hear babies say, “yup, I figured out that whole walking thing. I’m done.” Life is an endless series of falling down.  The trick is making sure you’re falling for the right thing.

So, what are you falling for?


  1. Reminds me of two things:
    “I am not concerned that you have fallen. I am concerned that you arise”
    Abraham Lincoln

    When babies are learning to walk and they inevitably fall over we cheer, hug and laud them for the effort not expecting them to master it on the first, second or even one thousandth time but celebrating each “failed effort” along the way. And with this loving support they learn that it’s worth the effort despite “failing”. When we are adults we treat ourselves-and each other- very differently.

    Thank you Wise Woman for this inspiring post.

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