It’s 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 better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. –Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America
A few years ago, I remember when our oldest son stood about so-high (a little over waist height for my nearly 6-foot-frame) and we visited a popular amusement park as a family. We started the day over in the kiddie-land, which is always filled with double strollers, moms in high jeans, dads wearing stuffed backpacks, and kids running in every direction usually sucking pacifiers or lollipops, depending on the age. Kiddie-land at every amusement park seems to be a place of fleeting laughter and wailing kids, not understanding why their tilt-a-whirl ride ended so soon.
So when our oldest son, probably 6 at the time, asked to ride a “big” roller coaster, my husband and I eyed each other, raised eyebrows, and followed his lead.
It turns out we ended up ogling one of the largest roller coasters on the premises– I’ll call it the “Grand Shoot-Em-Up Loop-D-Loop.” Again, our oldest son pointed, and my husband, pushing the double stroller with our other two sons, raised his eyebrows again. And since he measured above the height requirement line, we had no argument left. He had big dreams. And we weren’t about to stop him.
Off we went, my oldest and me, to stand in an hour-long line while I contemplated whether I could stomach the ride …
Isn’t it a gift when we know what our goals are, and where we want to go with our days, years, and lives? When we do find those things in everyday life–those things that make us tick, the essence of our hopes and dreams–it’s important not to settle for less, for the pacifier crowd in the wailing kiddie-land. But to stretch ourselves to pursue wholeheartedly following our dreams.
When we do, we enter the ring. We walk into the arena. With all of those who dare to live, to dream big, and to pursue that vision regardless of the daunts from the bully called failure. Because after the giant roller coaster, we may know the thrill of having stepped up to the challenge and laughed all the way back down to solid ground.
This week, I’m in the US, in the Heartland, at a national fiction conference, learning and meeting new people who share my love for writing and fiction. What a great place to be! So very grateful to have the opportunity, and so thankful for my family and so many friends supporting me on the journey. Here’s to entering the arena … and to the adventure always found in a life well lived.
Starting the conversation: What giant roller-coaster-type dreams do you have? How can you move toward fulfilling those dreams?