“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 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 up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
One hundred years and one day later, I fell flat on my face. I was walking along, on my way to World Tai Chi Day at the Rec Park. One minute, I was enjoying the brisk, sunny morning, the next, I was kissing the sidewalk. Ouch! I picked myself up, and continued to my destination, my face marred by blood and dust.
I first heard this quote from my father, the third consecutive year that I unsuccessfully tried out for cheerleading in high school. It has since been a favorite of mine. For one thing, you have to be pretty lucky to have a dad who would know that not making the cheerleading squad again and again was a really big deal. Because of my dad, I fondly remember the days before the final try-outs, learning the routines, sharing the comaraderie and the aching muscles with my friends (who made the team), instead of moment of learning that I was not among the chosen. I don’t even remember how we found out the results. I learned something that has helped me many, many times in my life, how to handle disappointment, to be gracious in failure, and to hold my head up when I have given my best effort.
Oh, I felt like crying on Saturday morning. And yesterday, my lip hurt, my hand hurt, my knee and toe and shoulder hurt. Truth be told, I am still a little sore today. But I’m glad I kept on going to the park. It was really cool to do tai chi with close to 50 people outdoors, including my dear friend Chris! I found out that Alpha, my next door neighbor, does tai chi, and we are going to go to the outdoor class on Tuesday nights together.
I don’t want to be one of the “cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” So, even if it makes me feel silly or out-of-place, I am going to keep working on the list….channeling my inner Gert Loplitz!