Stuart In The Arena. Daring Greatly?
Are you in the arena? Or are you just prancing around the edges?
"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, and 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 the 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 know neither victory nor defeat."
So the above (amazing) speech was given by Theodore Roosevelt over a 100 years ago. Recently it's been playing on my mind. Not in the sense of caring about 'the haters', or critics as Theo puts it. But more of "Am I fully in the arena, risking enough?". I think the answer is no. I'm great at being in the arena. Sadly though I'm great at sticking to the walls, not being fully seen, not immersing myself fully in the experience of the arena. Instead, prancing around the edges. Living more than being in the crowd but nothing in comparison to those in the heat of the battle, in front of thousands of spectators.
This luke-warm place between the crowd and the battle is in someways worse than staying in the crowd or by the food-court outside the arena. At least the people in the crowd have plausible deniability. They have a good excuse to which they can lie to themselves or keep them in the 'matrix'. So that they never have to face their potential. Instead, live a life of mediocre comfort. I've come to far. If I stay in the stands it will be torture for me. Once you've swallowed the red pill you can't go back.
I think/assume a lot of people who are into bettering themselves through personal development, philosophy or psychology may suffer the same dilemma as me. You know you must enter the arena for your growth, and to truly live. So you act courageously and enter that proverbial arena. You can see the whites of the lions eyes and of the other gladiators. You smell the blood and feel the dust splatter across your face. With this you know that walking further into the middle may mean death. So you skirt around the edges hoping to go unseen but last long enough in the arena that you win. That you can get the easy kills. Because these small safe victories are more comforting then taking that leap of faith. Even though you know that (most likely) you will survive. The unknown is terrifying. Hence why a lot of people seek religion, to answer that ominous question "What happens when I die?".
I believe we have many arenas in life. One for each area. I've played it semi-safe for so long. Which reflects in my luke-warm results. I want to know failure. But I also want to know success. I want to bathe in the triumph of high achievement and to feel what it's like to fail, while daring greatly. A life lived like that is no doubt a life that will end with a smile. A life lived boldly.
So I'll ask you again - Are you in the arena? Or are you just prancing around the edges?
To your success,