By Darcy Kamps
After living a certain number of years one learns things about oneself, and I’ve learned that I’m competitive. There. It’s out. It’s one of my dirty little secrets that I like to keep hidden; obviously it’s not something to be brought out in polite company. Sometimes, when I unconsciously have said or done something to reveal my true nature, it will be commented upon as if no one would ever suspect me of such an obscene act. I confess, I like to win; but even more than winning I really enjoy competition. Defeat is always better than not being in the game at all.
Take for instance my first experience at failure. I had just turned five when my family moved to a two-story house. At the time, my love was skipping rope. My favorite was the bright green plastic rope with the pink handles—so much better and faster than a slow old-fashioned fabric rope. With my new two-story house-on-the-corner as my backdrop I could skip rope from one end of our lot line to the other—including the corner—without stopping or tripping. I was good at skipping rope. I could skip rope walking, running, hopping, jumping and just about any combination you could imagine. And, better yet, as the youngest in the family, it was something I was better at than anyone else—that alone was quite an accomplishment!
And so one day I found myself on our wooden stairs, jump rope in hand. I made the first attempt at what I was certain would eventually become a new Olympic sport—jump roping stairs. The up part wasn’t so bad—it had potential and could be perfected. The down part had disastrous results that I prefer not to divulge publicly. Let’s just say it wasn’t long before I switched to a pogo stick.
Failure at the age of five on wooden stairs was uncomfortable. Failure at any age is uncomfortable. But failure is always better than not being in the game.
In our geocaching family, being in the game translates to perpetual “discussions” on the merits of the path walkers vs. the bushwhackers. In the end, it seems not to matter. There are many ways not to find a cache, and we’ve perfected several. We have not found caches the bushwhacking way. We have not found caches the path walking way. We have not found caches the GPS way and we have not found caches by the follow-your-instincts way. But, we’re in the game. We’re playing. We’re having fun.
Somewhere along the path to adulthood—between the ages of five and “grown up”—it seems we mysteriously lose the ability to have fun failing. I have to admit, even though it is comical decades later, it really was fun realizing that jump-roping stairs may not actually become an Olympic sport. As adults we learn to calculate and compensate. We strategize and analyze ourselves out of experience. We plan and organize ways not to fail.
When was the last time you seriously scared yourself having fun? I’m not talking shoot the rapids in a barrel, I’m talking about getting out there and challenging yourself (or your team) to do something you haven’t done before. This summer, I challenge you to have a colossal failure. The only condition is it has to be something that will take your breath away, something that will leave you in a heap on the ground laughing till the tears come—something…fun. Try caching while jump roping (just kidding).
We’d love to hear about your colossal failures. Tell us your stories about having fun hunting the cache you didn’t find this summer. Email stories and pictures to us at email@example.com.
- - - - - - - - - - -
When she’s not pursuing additional education in Ultrasound Technology, Darcy Kamps spends her time juggling hats and putting out fires. She drives a mini-van but has never been in the PTA, loves to cook but hates to clean up, and loves to plant but frequently forgets to harvest. She hopes to graduate before her children.
Originally published on July 2, 2008.