I’m reading the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s pretty much rocking my boat, but the book was partially born out of a quote by Roosevelt:
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.
I have a pretty darn hard head and I will try anything to stay out of the “arena” and if I do end up there I will try everything possible to hide behind someone else or find my way back into the stands. But in the past few months, I feel like I’ve almost stopped pushing myself into the arena and picturing The Hunger Games and I’ve started getting excited about being there. Despite every attempt possible to resume a life of control and doing the things I know/knew, that door is closed for sure and I am finally leaving it closed.
This summer has been a summer of letting go and moving on. My children are still young, but yet not. My son is set to turn double digits and my daughter is too big to sit in my lap. The apron strings are stretching and in some cases they are just hanging on by one string now.
I realized this when we went to the beach this summer. It was just myself and my two children in a place that is not comfortable for me. I love to sit on the beach, but I hate the ocean…beyond getting my knees wet. Normally, daddy is around to take the children out but this time it was up to me. It was up to me to encourage them, not scare them with my fears, and let them go. I watched my son go out further than I ever like to go and I had to be ok and trust him (and the lifeguards!) Then my daughter started creeping a bit further and I had to be the one to encourage her and not thrust my fears and worries on her. Watching the waves and seeing the wildness of the ocean I had to overcome my desire to force them to just sit back and be content with being in the stands. I had to jump in with my kids and I wanted to let them jump in too. I could have forced them to stay on the beach the whole week, content to let the water lap up to their feet. But that’s just teaching them to sit back and watch life. No, I had to let them go. And the joy of watching my son and daughter ride a wild wave…amazing.
One night we walked down to the boardwalk so we could see the ocean in the dark. If I had a feeling of what it was like to step “into the arena” it would have been that. There was something about standing there and seeing and hearing the wildness of the waves that made you stand in awe and wonder, but also made you want to bolt in the other direction back to safety, fast! Even my kids felt it. The three of us stood there holding hands, saying how badly we wanted to turn around and go back, but yet we stood there and watched in spite of the fear creeping in. It was just amazing to watch the white waves move in the moonlight and hear the roar and wildness of the ocean.
That’s how I want to live.