Monday, May 13, 2013
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt
This is one of my favorite quotes. I read it for the first time when I was young, naive, and wildly idealistic. At that time I honestly thought I was going to fix the world and all the people in it. I wanted to save souls and lives like a heroine from fiction. I'd have dark moments sure but I'd rise up like something from a movie. My triumph was certain because, well, I was passionate and hardworking. Perseverance and noble intentions were certainly enough to make all that is bad good again. I just knew it. And I was going to save myself from pain and regret by living a life full off good decisions. It was the perfect plan.
I was a timid soul and didn't even know it.
Entering the arena for real would be nothing like I imagined it. I would not enter willingly nor would I fight valiantly. I would be forced there, marred by dust and and sweat and blood against every ounce of my being. I wouldn't be ready. I'd hate every second in the arena. I wouldn't be noble or triumphant, just angry and crazy with pain. Most disappointing would be that I would emerge from battle broken and filled with regret.
I couldn't save them.
My real life has gone nothing like the novel I'd written for myself so long ago. I have not been a heroine, at least not yet. At times I was the villain, my own worst enemy, and at other times I was too lost in my own pain to be anything at all.
I lost my way.
I am still learning how to become an untimid soul. I have yet to triumph with high achievement and my failures have not been while daring greatly. I long to say with conviction that I have truly spent myself at a worthy cause.
Right now I just feel spent.
An untimid soul never gets out unscathed.
So I have put myself in training. I'm floundering a bit but I am serious about it. I am conditioning, hardening, the parts of me that are too sensitive so I can fight the good fight in my own life. I have embarked on a type of soul-hardening journey that will enable me to never again be a timid soul.
It doesn't mean I am seeking to have a hard soul. On the contrary, my soul is more compassionate today than it ever has been, but it must be strong enough to endure or any compassion it contains will be snuffed out. I can't remain wounded forever. I won't. It is time to let some of these wounds scar up.
I am full of heart and I feel my spirit being renewed daily but I still have a long way to go until I can claim to be one who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Until I am truly an untimid soul.