“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, Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 191.
I am in a place of re-invention again. It is not what I asked for, it is not what I wished for, it is not what I dreamed about . . . but it is where I am at. I am facing decisions and choices larger than me and with grand consequences. I am sitting at a table where ‘all’ is on the table and I don’t know how it will all end. So as I set out on this journey, I have to choose at the get-go what voices I’m going to listen to. There are voices within and without in life and they speak different messages.
Some voices focus and intimidate on what is not, on what is done and on what is fearful about the future. It is a voice of negativity and scarcity. It is a bully of a voice; taunting and shouting accusations and judgments like piercing arrows looking for weaknesses in the armor. This voice can sometimes veil itself in logic and perceived control, but it’s aim is not of freedom, but to a slavery of fear. This voice wakes me in the night with racing thoughts and pre-occupations of circumstances well beyond my control. It’s end is destructive, it’s stench wreaks of despair. it is a foul voice and I don’t want it at my table.
There is another voice, one that is not the shouts of a bully, but the whispers of a wise mentor. This is a voice that talks about journey, that speaks to battles that have been won, ground that has been taken and pathways that have shaped the very make-up of who I am. This is a voice that sees the possibility of the future and puts on sunglasses to shade it’s radiance. This is a voice that when faced with the taunts of a bully steps up to the line to look his enemy in the eye. This is the voice of a leader; to whom is given the care and protection of many and can look the fiery demon in the face and in the words of Gandalf the Grey, proclaim “You Shall Not Pass!”. This voice speaks beauty when things are ugly, speaks light when things are dark and speaks freedom when the shackles are nearby. This is the voice of hope and it must become my cry.
Friend, I don’t know what you are facing, but it is worth the time to stop and consider the voices you are listening to. It may be the voices that determine the direction of your journey. Be brave, choose hope.