The Practice of Failure

Trinkar Ötso, Gampo Abbey Artist in Residence


Pema Chödrön often talks about the value of getting good at failure. When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa University, Ani Pema promised that she’d speak at the commencement ceremony.

Her book and audiobook Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better is from her speech that day.

What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Ani Pema. We say ‘I’m a failure.’

But what if failing wasn’t just “okay” . . . but the most direct way to becoming a more complete, loving, and fulfilled human being?

A series of linked failures

Inspired by Ani Pema’s heartfelt advice on how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities and purpose, I’m opening my messy cupboard to show a glimpse of the regular practice of failure in my studio. 

For several years now I’ve been asked to create the Losar cards (Lunar New Year) for Gampo Abbey. Every year I go through a predictably uncomfortable creative process. Honestly, some years the failures pile up for so long that I have to laugh. Have you ever wondered what ends up on the studio floor in the process? 


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