The Man In The Arena
I’m sure you’ve heard this quote, from a speech given by our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, on April 23, 1910, in Paris, France. During part of the speech, he said…
“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.”
Last night, for the second time in his career, it was my son Nick, who was again, the man in the arena.
The second wrestling match of his career took place around 8pm. He again, weighing only 151, was going up against a guy weighing 160, and on top of that, the guy was ranked third in last years State championships.
Most people figured the match would be over in a flash.
In fact, the coach gave Nick the option of just forfeiting and not even wrestling at all, to avoid risking either an ass-whipping, or being humiliated.
Not my kid.
There’s far more embarrassment in forfeiting than in losing — in being the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.
Nick went out and IMMEDIATELY tried to shoot in. He got his arm around his opponent’s leg, but the state champ used his experience to quickly get out of any trouble.
Then it was the champ’s turn. He shot in against my son and immediately went for the pin.
This time it was Nick who flipped the champ over and evaded a loss.
After about 15 seconds of grappling, the state champ then managed to use his legs to hold Nick’s legs down across his body in what I think is called a banana hold, and after a solid 10 seconds of resisting, he managed to pin Nick.
There is a moment in time, during those 10 seconds, when life suddenly slows down to a crawl. Instead of things moving at a “normal” pace, it’s as if you’re watching a movie in slow-motion. Everyone’s yelling and screaming, but you sort of hear it in the background.
All you see is your son struggling and fighting for his life, and instead of seeing things in real time, you see them in micro-seconds. You want to rush over to where he is, battling to not go down, and just toss his opponent over and give him a hand…
And you just “know” you can, because you’re seeing the world in slow motion, and you know you’ve got enough time in that slow-motion world, to rush over there and make it all better for him.
THAT is a powerless feeling, whether your son is 7, 17, or — I would imagine — 27.
Losing sucks even if you DO fail while daring greatly, so that your place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
They say third times a charm; I guess we’ll find out in a few days, now won’t we?
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Now it’s time for YOU to get in the arena and go sell something, don’tcha think?
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