Almost Only Counts In Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

There have been times I feel like
A flower falling through space
Who has been caught on a clothesline.

The target is just below,
Four vases, the third from the left
is my best shot to reach a safe destination.

I was counting on the breeze to get there,
But the breeze abandoned me.
And now everything hangs in the balance.

I can feel the moisture,
I can imagine the life force surging.
But imagining will not take the place
Of a cool clear drink of success.

Was it miscalculation on my part?
Or just plain bad luck.
Probably, on both accounts.

There is no celebration in almost,
No victory parade
No justification or spin
Can salvage success from almost.

Almost lives in the shadow
of perfection never to be complete.

When a dream falters, it withers.
It’s best to bury the remains
And compost it and let the seeds
Of a new approach, or even a new dream sprout.
Take the knowledge I have gleaned
And build again.

One can’t count on luck to see you through.
Remember, as my Father used to say,
Almost only counts in the game of horseshoes
Or when throwing a hand grenade.

Cheryl McDonald 2022©

You can listen to me read this poem here.

I have to say this was a hard poem to write. This painting “Almost Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”, there you can see the whole image, which is part of the “Left Hanging in Space” series brings up a lot of sadness for me, and yet I love it because it so completely captures the feeling of almost.

It takes a lot of courage to work on a dream. Fighting the norms of society, and the resistance that we create within our own mind. Am I good enough? Is this something that I can achieve? Will it be as good to succeed as I think it might? How will my friends and family take it if I even pursue this dream. Is it even “feasible”

Many people resist the dreams that haunt them and settle for safe and comfortable. It’s easier. However, it makes for a much less interesting life. We see others succeed and it looks easy, effortless, overnight. Many people believe “It must be their immense talent that gets those people to success and I don’t have that, so how can I possibly succeed.” There are many experts and coaches who will tell you that it takes time and a great deal of trial and error to finally get to success. Honing your skills, learning the arena, making the sacrifice of time and energy, and most of all continuously fighting the resistance that our own brains cast upon us. The road to success is not easy, cheap, or without pain.

It is often easier to give up and just go back to safe, to just be bystanders, cogs in a wheel that others create. But the truth is that each time we fail we can learn a lesson that can propel us closer to the success we seek. There is no self-help book or coach on earth who knows exactly what you need to succeed. Advice, general rules that guide you, and encouragement to keep going, these are the things they can teach. All of which we often need to not lose faith. We are the only ones who really can discover the path we need to take in the end.

I believe that the dreams we have are the Universe telling us what it needs from us, what the world needs from us. Often the simple truth is we just have more to learn to get there. Giving up is not an option for happiness.

Have a Happy Day


To see the entire painting please go to my website.

Published by cherylmcdonald

Thank you for taking a little time to get to know me. Making art has been my life, I love to tell stories through words and pictures. I am a multi-media artist working in photography, watercolor, various drawing media, and sometimes digital art.

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