The man in the arena

“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.”
Theodore Roosevelt

This above all

In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes, “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be false to any man.” In this line, the first step to integrity is being true to your own inner voice.

There’s a corollary in Toltec wisdom, according to Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: “Be impeccable with your word.” That this is the first agreement written seems important, as the other agreements spring from being true to your word, and to your self.

It’s not always the easiest path – being true to yourself. Many people throughout history have been labeled crazy, odd, or other equally derisive terms for not following norms. But norms are norms because they are the average. By that very definition, there must be people on both sides of the average.

Norms are societal agreements; common acceptable behaviors. But they had to begin somewhere, and what is common now may have very well been uncommon before.

It’s okay to be yourself. In fact, it’s preferable to be yourself, rather than someone else. “This above all, to thine own self be true.”

 

Journaling

First things first. I love journals. Have since at least 1990. I had just turned 7, and what I had asked for from my dad was a notebook/journal. I know this because I still have it. (Somewhere, possibly in storage. I swear I’ve seen it recently…) It is a faded green color, with an image of rough seas. A sail boat rides the swells. I can’t recall what the style of the picture is named, but you’d know it if you saw it.

From that point on, I’ve always written stuff. Nothing coherent. A few short stories, maybe a hundred or so poems. But, I jot notes down all the time. Song lyrics. Words I want to know more about, or topics. Quotes that inspire, motivate, or enlighten me.

I heard that Charles Dickens burned his notebooks and letters annually. I wonder what is lost or gained when we let go of those thoughts written down for later investigation.