If at first you don’t succeed, we’re told, try, try again.
The first time is just that, a try, and it
We go on and keep trying, bashing our heads
words that betray a fear we’re forced to keep in check
to hold sacred and close
against our burning chests
upon pain of death, social death, humiliation and embarrassment
A social convention that perpetuates the cycle anew
teaches us fear of others
fear of society
fear of ourselves.
It’s opinion from which we
cry and shake
we shiver and clutch ourselves
“it will be better tomorrow”
“I promise to try my hardest”
“if I just persevere, I’ll get what I deserve”
yet we know that we’ve already failed
“If” is the key, the crux of it, the shame of it.
“If” is possibility, mere chance, not certainty.
“If” is binary, both yes and no, success and failure.
“If” is a safety, a blanket under which to curl and cry.
Because “if” shouldn’t exist.
It isn’t an eventuality.
It only happens when
And so we’re told “if you don’t succeed.”
The immediate pressure
We try so hard
to stack the odds in our favor,
when what we need most is balance.
“When” is different from “if”
because “when” is eventuality
unary, singular, solitary
solid, strong, stable
“When” is definite, ineffable, unavoidable
“When” will always happen, must always happen
At least once
Only after when has gone
does “if” take over
“When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”