The word failure is never used at South Davis, as far as we can see, at least within the earshot of patients. But it happens just the same. After last Saturday’s enormous success in letting breathing happen by itself, Sunday brought a return of spasms, discomfort, poor breathing, and general discouragement. And failure. Brooke did one trach mask trial of just an hour or so, another that didn’t happen at all.
What causes failure? Too much trying, too many efforts, too much trying to reproduce what has happened before. But as many of you know, this is characteristic of many creative endeavors, musical composition (as Brooke was just discussing with some friends who came to dinner, bringing Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic), writing of all sorts, and even sexual intimacy. It’s impossible to reproduce the kind of spontaneity that characterizes those moments in which everything seems to come together without even needing to think about it. The great moments seem to just happen when you least expect them; then you try and try to reproduce them but you almost always fall short. Well, that’s what happened to me in the two days following the ecstactic experiences of the Fourth of July, failure—even though it’s connected with what’s most prized, really working hard at things. Maybe there’s a reason they don’t use that word around here; it’s not so much failure as part of a very, very familiar and even necessary pattern.
After all, failure is often followed by success. Lo and behold, two days after that memorable Fourth, after a terrible night’s sleep and no expectations of anything happening at all, I was able—even half asleep most of the time--to breathe off the vent for almost three hours straight. Now that isn’t failure at all, but it will risk producing what seems like failure as soon as I start trying to do it again.