Martha's big adventure - The good news - Martha Randolph Carr

The good news is the spiritual and emotional muscles we've all been so expertly honing on how to deal with the failures in life are exactly the muscles we'll need for the times we succeed.

The bad news is I thought it would be much easier. It has come to my attention that success doesn't actually play out like it's portrayed in the movies. The typical plot line left me with the impression that once someone got past a tipping point of sorts things magically fell into place, and staying successful was all about relaxing into it.

There appeared to be a wisdom that just seeped through the skin of people who managed to pull off going from dreaming into creation. It seemed that the coveted knowledge gave them the ability to worry less and do more. I really wanted some of that and I was under the impression I was getting closer to finally understanding what Rockefeller or Trump have figured out. I was, but as usual it was not what I expected.

It has been a very fortunate year for me. Projects I've been working on for years have not only taken root, they've blossomed. Dreams I held as a child have come true and I've gotten a chance to see what it's like to succeed at something. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the loftier view is just as precarious.

But this landscape is also less familiar than losing out and having to start over. It's more like looking at life through a bug-eye lens. Everything looks familiar but something's a little different here. That's added a certain amount of queasiness.

My unease was so great I sought out a few people who are on the fast track of their dreams and asked them if they were finding the same strange reality. I wanted to know if I had taken a wrong turn and was so clueless I didn't know things weren't going exactly right.

Maybe I had reached the purgatory part of success. Not quite failure, not quite success.

They seemed relieved that someone else was voicing the same concerns. It turned out that to a person, they had hit a place where they wondered if they were up to the challenge in front of them and had no idea what to do next beyond the small step presented to them.

Anthony Luciano, who makes custom handbags and accessories under his own label that start at the price of a used car was one of the most serene of the bunch. Even in the face of a possible economic meltdown among the crowd that can afford what are more like mobile one-of-a-kind works of art that can also hold your cell phone, he is content to hang out in the day he has been given.

Now, here's where the muscles this group has exercised during the periods they judged as failures came into play and dictated what came next.

Those like Anthony who decided that failures contained blessings and translated them into learning opportunities did the same thing when presented with the opportunity for larger success at something they wanted with all of their hearts.

They let go of having to know the outcome of anything and took that next step. They didn't hesitate or decide up front that the risk factor was too high. They began right from where they were to rise to the next level. Anthony opened his own shop and started using antique clasps with updated, hand sewn purses to create something that hadn't been seen before.

It could have ended with a large yard sale. The thing is, big success contains the possibility of bigger failure and this time at something we have dreamed of forever. Lose that and what's left?

But, standing still or heading back into the land of compromise means never knowing the full scope of your dreams or what you're capable of accomplishing. In other words, there's a definite price to pay for not trying while the other option at least offers the chance to push the boundaries of our own identities and beliefs into something grander.

People from all over the country are now flocking to Anthony's web site and Neiman Marcus carries his line. Gain that wisdom and never know again what's coming next, but let go forever of the idea that we have to be in control. Our life gets back that quality we had when we were small and wondered what cool stuff we might find out about next.

Approach everything with the same degree of curiosity and optimism you had when you were five or six years old and you also might find yourself telling your real age. Instead of seeing the world as narrowing, you'll catch on that you can't even see the boundaries of what might happen. So go on, it's your turn. Take that risk. It is so worth it all.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.