Inside Kelvin’s World of Disappointment (& Discovery)
Do you remember the very first time you were utterly disappointed?
Like, disappointed to the point that the let-down you felt was tangible. You can still feel the frustration as the weight of your expectation came crumbling down upon you like a landslide.
This is a disappointment that remains engraved on your consciousness despite the passage of time and the impact of many, many more disappointments.
Because I do.
I was probably seven years old. I remember the yellow-green weeds of late summer piercing through a wall of rocks on the edge of our driveway back in Alberta. The rocks were enormous. Or at least I remember them as enormous. They were fashioned into a wall bordering our driveway and represented an impenetrable barrier between our property and that of our neighbours’.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t afraid of the neighbours. Well, not super afraid. Actually, another clear memory from my childhood involves a friend and I tobogganing on the hill behind the neighbour’s house, and it was TERRIFYING.
Anyways, it wasn’t as though I was testing anything when I picked up a large flat piece of slate the morning of the day in question. After all, nothing in my seven years of existence would have encouraged me to question the structural integrity of the stones. I think I just wanted to make a big noise (I also spent a lot of time alone as a kid).
Nothing could prepare me for what happened next. The rock wall was the strongest, most resilient force young Kelvin knew. Part of my core, the very stuff by which I was built, believed that rocks couldn’t be broken. It was as if the strength within my small body was destined to entwine forever with the geological fortress my father had constructed for our family. Rocks were the primary ingredients by which the earth was constructed, and in my mind it was irrefutable fact that rocks were indestructible.
And then I broke one.
I’m not making this up – I remember the first thoughts that assaulted my brain during those first few moments after the slate broke into pieces.
What’s happening here?
Was that a real rock?
What’s going to break next, the metaphysical nature of the universe itself?
AM I THE MOST POWERFUL BEING EVER TO WALK THE PLANES OF EXISTENCE?
We’re often left to conjure our own solutions when something goes awry. Things break all the time – rocks, relationships, websites, the Edmonton Oilers. Disappointment is a strange and fascinating emotion because it’s rooted in our own expectations. If I didn’t believe rocks were unbreakable, I wouldn’t have been disappointed that day on the rock wall.
But then I wouldn’t have swelled with near-inhuman power.
Disappointment is a reality of our world, whether you’re a writer touching on passionate subjects like hockey in Canada or you’re an ill-prepared project manager awaiting submissions from your team of ‘creatives’. It’s how we put the pieces back together that truly counts.
You know what else I learned that day on the driveway? That assumptions are a waste if time, and the more assumptions you hold, the more likely you’ll be to hold back. The most important discoveries are those least expected.
So stop assuming the world is too strong for you. Confront your disappointment. Go smash more rocks.