Absolute Value

I much prefer my failures
to be bite-sized
     inconspicuous
     easily concealed
          when the unsympathetic
          look my way.

Just keep the missteps
     to a minimum,

I exhort myself,
     morning after morning.

Perhaps, then, in the final analysis,
the sum of my errors
will not be the kind of number
     whose digits one must count
     before uttering its name.

But how small a life will I have lived
if my dreams must be shrunk
     to fit inside this safe deposit box
     meant to protect me from catastrophic loss?

What if, in the end,
life is not measured
     in positives or negatives,
but according to absolute value–
     as one’s willingness to swing
          far and wide,
     allowing zero to become
     a shrinking dot
          on a steadily receding horizon?

What if the question is not, “Have I failed too much?”
     but rather, “Have I failed enough?”