About a year ago I was in my bed, working on my laptop. A fist pounded on the wall of my RV, moving from the front to the back. Then more pounding on the other side. Finally I hear someone yanking on the RV doors. I slowly shut my laptop, turned off the lights, and sat in the darkness as I waited for the police to decide I wasn't home.
It was then that I decided I'd try and find somewhere legal to park the RV.
I sent out dozens of emails and got only one reply. A girl had an apartment in the Mission and was willing to rent me her driveway. I showed up with the RV, shimmied it past the entrance gate, and agreed to rent the spot. She asked where I lived, and thinking that we were getting along really well, I bluntly replied, "In here!" as I patted the wall of the RV.
"Oh! Right! Okay. Hmm. Let me think about this for a second. Wow! Am I okay with this? Yeah, I guess so. Okay! This is fine."
As I expected, she called the next day and made an excuse. I lost the spot. I sent out more emails and got no replies. Found one more spot, called the phone number, and was told it was still available. The next day I checked out the spot, and when asked where I lived, I gave a more vague, "San Francisco". I moved in, and for the first week made an effort to be invisible. Then I left the country for a month. When I got back I stopped being anything other than blatant, and was caught.
"So.... you live in there, don't you?"
Since then I've had an amazing spot to park my RV. I pay rent, but it's not too bad.
When I was emailing and calling all of these places, there were times when it felt hopeless. Who wants some RV with a potentially sketchy resident parked in front of their house? As logic would allow: not too many people. Constant failure was a certainty.
At the same time, though, I only needed one person to say yes. There are times when a high success rate is critical (like being a chef at a restaurant), but there are others, like my parking situation, where a high success rate is not much better than a low success rate.
Another more universally applicable example of this sort of situation is dating. There are certain benefits to having a high success rate, but a low success rate can look pretty good, too. For most of us, a low success rate is what we ought to expect. Finding someone interesting is very difficult. Attracting them isn't always easy. Building a good relationship on top of that is challenging. But if there's only one person out of the thousands you meet in your life who you're interested in, successfully attract, and build a great relationship with, then you've done pretty well.
Next time you feel a bit overwhelmed with something, ask yourself what kind of success rate you really need. If it's a low success rate, then you may be able to put failure in perspective. In some cases it's absolutely expected that you'll have a long string of failures before you get that one critical success. If that applies to your situation, you can view your failures as the steps leading up to that one ultimate success that you need.
I think a pile of sea urchins may be a new low for post-image relevancy. Heading to China this week and will make a point of taking a lot of photos.