Daring Greatly – ‘The Man In The Arena’

Along the journey I picked up some wisdom about the necessity of participating in life. It came in the form of a simple analogy. When one enters a gymnasium they choose whether to go out on the court to play or alternatively make ones way up the bleacher steps and observe the activities from afar. The guidance given, win or lose, participating on the court, is where the meaning is found. It sounds straight forward, but are we really listening to our hearts, participating and playing the game of life we are capable of or are we comfortably observing, ignoring the voice?

I think of the times I have neglected the insight, going against the internal voice that knows and allowing myself to settle, comfortably walking up the bleacher steps. Despite the seduction of the safer more rational story, it never really feels genuinely satisfying, because deep within, during my most sober and lucid moments, I truly know.

Insight is a gift, it’s the gift of knowing, even for a fleeting second. The condition of truly acting on the insight is that you have to be participating, out on the court. It’s often easier and more prudent to walk up the bleacher steps, sit down and observe. But when we go against the internal insight and wisdom that provides us with the answers, there’s an unsettling discomfort that raises its ugly head and challenges us with the simple question, “Why?”

In Buddhism it’s the meditative development of insight that one gains liberating wisdom. The wisdom and courage to get out there and play is where the source of life is produced. So it’s with this sentiment that I end with the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“The Man In The Arena”

It is not the critic who counts; not the human who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them bettering. 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.

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