I had one of those days when I see myself only as having failed. Failed to do the dishes. Failed to feed the cats. Failed to remember someone’s birthday. Failed to do paperwork. Failed. Just failed.

One of those days when the “To Do” list is so long it takes up pages. One of those days when I’m sleepy and wired at the same time so I think I can be productive but my brain is going so fast that I can’t finish reading one sentence without getting distracted or drowsy. But I’m too wired to sleep. I’ve had of those days when all the urges to move forward get stuck and all I can do is say I can’t do anything at all. On days like these it’s always a toss-up. I could either sleep for 4 hours or I could paint the kitchen.

And the drum set sits idle in its cases. Rosie has taken to sleeping on the snare after shows and I find clumps of cat hair mashed into the black nylon when I set out for shows. She’s using the drum set more than me these days. And the practice pad has become a de facto end table with brown rings from my tea mug scarring the top of it.

My project looms large. The charm of my day of tourism has worn off and I wonder if it was a mistake. So it’s been a day of regrets too. Why didn’t I do this? Or that? Why do live here and not somewhere else? Why I’m married to him and not someone else? Why did I once leave a party and forget to thank the host? Why do I have this job? Why did I skip yoga? Why? Why? Why?

Oh my, it has been a day.

It was only this evening, as I laid flat out on the couch like a victim of a disaster, did I discover my amusement. There was show on Channel 50, one of Byron Allen’s celebrity shows, that featured a tribute to Eddie Murphy’s 80’s HBO Special “Delirious.” In between interviews with comedians like Chris Rock, Cedric, and Chris Tucker, the show featured clips from the “Delirious” along with interviews of Eddie Murphy. Each of the comedians talked about how watching “Delirious” showed them it was possible for them to be comedians too. Martin Lawrence said: “I related to everything Eddie talked about and I realized that if he could do it, so could I.”

Then they replayed all the famous bits from the HBO special, The Ice Cream Man (Can anyone forget Eddie singing ‘You ain’t got no ice cream because you on the wel-fare’?), My Mother’s Shoe, and the unforgettable Farting in the Bathtub. I laughed hard. And after laughing I heard now-famous comedians say that from Eddie they learned how much was really possible. In between the laughs, I learned it too. For the first time all day, I had genuine energy and at 10 PM in a drizzly rain I biked to the video store to rent “Delirious” — not available, it turns out — but I biked home in that rain hearing that Ice Cream Man song over and over in my head: you ain’t got no ice cream, you ain’t got no ice cream.

And for the first time I realized why Eddie Murphy was inspirational. Even as he was telling jokes about growing up not having anything, he was standing on stage in front of thousands of people having it all. Anyone listening to him could laugh at what it felt like to have nothing from the safe distance of having everything. And they learned that having nothing doesn’t mean you’re not one day going to have everything.

So there I was on the couch, no longer prone, listening to the Eddie talk dirty about the Honeymooners (my least favorite bit, I think) and imitate James Brown and Michael Jackson. That’s when I got it: believing I’ve failed is really just a starting point — it’s the first step in discovering how I can succeed. Failure, rather than a predestined certainty, is just a moment — a momentary thought — and I can let that go of that like I can let go of thinking I’m fat or that I can’t play the drums. It’s just a thought that can disappear as easily as it came.

Oh my God! Did I tell you about my day? It was fabulous.

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