It ain’t about how hard you hit…

My thanks to M3 for referencing one of my posts and giving me the spur I needed to resume posting.

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.” – Teddy Roosevelt.

This blog has been silent since November 22nd. That week I took an insane risk. I bet my time, ambition and fortune on bold action; to risk all on one toss of fate’s dice…and I lost. I moved halfway across the country to grasp at a new opportunity, to shake my foundations, to test myself; and I failed. I almost hit rock bottom and I lost all my savings.

I spent nights sleeping in my car. I was literally counting the days until my money ran out. Cause and effect being incestuous, I can’t say whether my fear of looming destitution added to my ill health or I my ill health increased my fear…all I know is that life gave me a beating.

The moment I needed all my strength and determination I ended up with a raging infection. Life really likes to boot a man when he’s down. No money, no job and at one point I had barely the energy to walk downstairs. When I began to hit the depths of self pity I knew I was circling the drain.

Just as success compounds so does failure. As one part of your life falls away so does the rest. Finally I am making a comeback. I am still recovering health wise and financially I am in bad shape, and will be for a while. I am back in the fight though.

I realized that my failures are my own doing, subconsciously. I never really wanted to succeed. I was chasing someone else’s dream. Maybe it was the dream of my old self. It was not my dream; I did not desire it enough to put in the required effort.

Yet I am now focused more clearly than ever on what I do want. In fact, I was purposefully distracting myself from what I really wanted because I fear it. I fear finding out I am not good enough. I fear being judged. I fear being vulnerable. To see a man’s dream is to see into his soul.

My dream is to be a writer. One day a great writer. Today I will settle for accomplished mediocrity. With that in mind I intend to post a short story here next week. I also intend to update regularly again. Being extensively quoted by a blog as widely read as 3rd Millenium Men, and feeling awe at my own words viewed afresh, is a taste of my dream realised; nothing is as sweet or as encouraging.

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8 thoughts on “It ain’t about how hard you hit…

  1. doug michaels

    I’m in my mid 50’s. Been there. I made so many mistakes and got slapped down so any times, and also did a few good things too. As you, I got deathly ill at one pt.during a very low period in my life. George Carlin talked about drug problems and alcohol abuse that he went through and said the key to getting off the stuff is having something to look forward to when you get up in the morning. A passion for something you love doing seems to be the key. Worked nicely for me and life did play out well.

    Reply
  2. Vic

    I’ve stumbled on this post by accident (or was it a synchronicity, hmm), and I felt like I needed to comment. Why? You’re basically describing my life these past 6 months. The coincidences are uncanny.

    About half a year ago I was searching for jobs (I’m still in college) because I quickly needed some cash due to some unfortunate decisions. Just as I was about to land a decent gig, I ended up with a viral infection that has left me unable to work to this day. So I’m still on edge financially and can’t work normally to get the money I need, and I’ll need some time to recover from everything.

    Okay, that can happen, although it’s a bit weird so far. But when I’ve read that your dream is to be a writer, I chuckled. That’s my dream as well (one that I’m actively working on). For me things started to get even weirder here; it was like I was reading about my life. Finally, you posted that Rocky’s speech, and so it happens that Rocky is my favorite movie series of all time, and that part is my favorite part of “Rocky Balboa”(the quote is kind of my life motto). It’s really fascinating.

    Maybe it was all a big chain of coincidences, but like I’ve said, it’s funny to me – in a good way. I’ll definitely check out your blog regularly, now that this has happened.

    “I realized that my failures are my own doing, subconsciously. I never really wanted to succeed. I was chasing someone else’s dream. Maybe it was the dream of my old self. It was not my dream; I did not desire it enough to put in the required effort.

    Yet I am now focused more clearly than ever on what I do want. In fact, I was purposefully distracting myself from what I really wanted because I fear it. I fear finding out I am not good enough. I fear being judged. I fear being vulnerable. To see a man’s dream is to see into his soul.

    My dream is to be a writer.”

    So far, I haven’t had a specific epiphany about this issue (that is, I still can’t identify if/how exactly I brought my failures onto me subconsciously), but lately a very similar realization dawned on me as well. I’ve spent a good chunk of the past 8 years doing stuff I don’t like just so my family would be “proud” of me. It’s the classic case of an obedient nice guy. I think two factors played a role in this: (1) lack of courage to pursue what I wanted (basically I was being a spineless idiot); (2) not really knowing what I wanted to do. I’m still far away from being sure about the direction of my life, but I’m 100% certain about one thing – I want to be a writer, and I’m ready to do it, despite what everyone says. So far, writing is the only thing I get up in the morning for, so I guess that’s my passion. I’m looking forward to seeing your short story posted.

    Reply
    1. Tom White Post author

      Thanks. I would be honoured if you would give me some feedback about my story. Good luck with your own writing and I agree with what cynical optimist says below, that fighting through this makes you twice the man you were.

      Reply
      1. Vic

        I definitely agree with what cynical optimist said because I know it’s true. About three years ago I went through the same crap; it took me a year to get back on my feet, and now I’m going through it again (hopefully for the last time). After the first recovery I was a changed man. I started getting my life in order and started to pursue my passions. I now laugh at silly everyday stuff that I used to worry about prior to my illness; it seems so ridiculous and unreal to me and my mental toughness has increased considerably after making the first recovery. Anyway, I hope everyone recovers fast from their own problems.

        About writing – sure, I’ll be glad to give you some feedback on your story. I’m always looking forward to connecting with fellow writers. (Just don’t forget when you post a story online, you can’t submit it to any magazine later, but you can self-publish it).

  3. cynical optimist

    been there done that too mate, when you do recover and you will i promise you that you WILL BE TWICE THE MAN YOU WERE. I took me two years and with the help of a professional to get me back on my feet but im back twice as strong mentally and working on the physical again. Confucoious said: HE WHO SAYS HE CAN AND HE WHO SAYS HE CANT ARE BOTH USUALLY RIGHT.

    Reply
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