It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, 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, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the 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 cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
Hello dear reader(s)!
I am not scared to lose. There are a lot of people in my life who are scared to try anything. They are the most unhappy people I’ve known. When I lose, I lose hard. To say that it hasn’t hurt me would be a major understatement. But then I keep trying. Often, I ignore conventional wisdom when going for the things I want. And it usually doesn’t work out. I would say I fail far more than I have ever succeeded. Occasionally though, I do succeed. And when I do, it is such a sweet taste of victory that it more than makes up for the losses. In the immediate aftermath of those losses, I hurt though. But I find solace in the fact that I tried.
Life is going to get you, even when you are sitting on the sidelines. You may not fail as often and as spectacularly as you would if you were a participant, but being in the audience doesn’t necessarily keep you safe. You could have a sudden heart attack, or stroke, or like me…you could get cancer without a cause. Or, to use a more literal analogy, you could be in the audience of the Championship Air Races when a plane that is actually in the race breaks up and slams into you.
We all lose. Would you rather lose with a chance to win, or would you rather lose having never tried?
Every single one of us makes mistakes. I probably make more than most people I know. In my pursuit of happiness I sometimes wear blinders to the reality of the situation with a strange belief that somehow the regular rules of reality won’t apply in a given situation. Nine times out of ten, reality kicks me in the ass. But that one time, makes it all worth it.
I was breaking the rules when I met Hannah. And despite the tragic end that you all know about now, finding her was the biggest win I have ever had. Fresh off a divorce that wasn’t even final (thank you ridiculous waiting periods), I jumped heart first into something everyone told me I shouldn’t do. And I knew the logic behind what everyone was saying too. It was too soon. I just didn’t want to be alone. I needed to heal first. It all made sense, and I don’t blame anyone for trying to warn me of the likelihood things would not go well. Only they did go well. Hannah was more to me than any person I had ever encountered. Yes, they were right, I was ultimately hurt, but not for the reasons they thought. And not without everything that was amazing about her in my life for the time that I had her. And not before she fundamentally changed me as a person and showed me a strength I had always wanted but never knew I had. On paper, jumping into a relationship with Hannah when I did was a disaster. The relationship wasn’t a disaster, the fact that she is no longer here is.
When I was in high school, I was in a band. When we started getting a following and opening for acts I was listening to on the radio, or were my musical heroes, I decided I was going to be a drummer in that band and stopped working on other things that were not as important to me. It was a mistake. I lost on that one for so many reasons.
Or did I?
I got to play music in front of people who loved it. I got to meet and play with musicians I looked up to and still do to this day. I got to find out that our music was very meaningful in a woman’s life who was suicidal at the time and told me that going to see our band gave her the chance to not only escape her home for a time, but made her realize there were things that she wanted to live for. You don’t get to win like that if you never try.
The most unhappy people I know aren’t the people who have lost recently. They are the people who haven’t tried recently because they are so scared of the results based on the last time they lost. Stuck in a comfortable but boring routine with dreams and aspirations they won’t pursue and constantly living in fear of the outcomes of their effort.
Then some life-event happens to them and they get knocked down even further. In their pain, they somehow equate it to something they did or had control over. They believe that trying less and closing off will protect them. It won’t. Everyone will get hurt at some point. Everyone will fail at least once. The only ones who fail in life, are the ones who fail to try.