Friday, March 15, 2013

Daring Greatly

"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..."

-Theodore Roosevelt

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Am I daring greatly? 
Is my face "marred by dust and sweat and blood" in the struggle for something worthy? 

I assume that my version of being "marred" is probably just being tired or bored, which feels far less valiant and brave. I may feel "marred" simply because it was a long day at work and I'm cranky. But I doubt that was what Roosevelt was talking about. 

Am I working for something?
Am I striving for anything?
Am I willing to enter the arena?
And if so, for what?

Recently, I've been reading Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It's about examining our own lives and asking, "Am I living a meaningful life? If my life were made into a movie, would I want to watch it? Would others?" I imagine many of us would say: "Nope."

I've read Miller's book before, but at this point in my life, I read it differently. Every page begs me to answer this question, "What do I want to be when I grow up? How will I get there?" and  "How will it matter?"

I don't know.

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I think my dear friend, Kylie, is daring greatly. She's a twenty-something pal of mine who just moved to Kathmandu, Nepal to teach through an organization called Tiny Hands International, which seeks to rescue young girls who are being sold into sex slavery. Whew! No small thing. She's so brave. 

But would Kylie say she is "daring greatly"? Would she say that every moment of every day is simply brimming with intrigue and risk and purpose? No. I don't think she would. But I think she is. Because life requires a few moments of boredom and inopportune trips to the grocery store. But she is one of the most courageous people I know.

Is daring something we feel or something we are?

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My husband, Jeremy, says that he most enjoys work in which there is 90% boredom and 10% spur-of-the-moment-split-second-decision action. That he enjoys having a job where he is required to come alive at a moment's notice when it really counts. 

So if 90% of that time is boredom, does that discredit the 10% where crucial decisions are made and one may dare greatly? Maybe it's less about a life overpacked with opportunities to risk it all and more about creating a life in which these opportunities have the potential to arise. And when they do, we simply. show. up.

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When I was eight years-old, I wrote an obituary and a will and put together a box of belongings and keepsakes that I would want to grab quickly in the event of a fire. Talk about tragic.  I have regularly existed in an eternal state-of-mind. Always have.

So maybe that's why this idea of daring greatly and living with purpose holds such a prominent and undeniable place in my life. I can't hardly shake it. Unfortunately, I tend to spend more time fretting about not living a purposeful life than actually living a purposeful life. 

What would it take for me to step into the arena of something risky and difficult and life-changing? Something that may leave me battered and dirty but stronger and changed?

What will that arena be?