It’s taken a long while for me to come around. Rather, it’s taken many years for me to cut myself some slack, to forgive me. Now passed middle age, I got that I can love me as a whole: strengths and frailty. Wabi-sabi: Behold the beauty and possibility in my imperfection. I forgive others and myself as much as humanly possible. Practice. Practice.
Admittedly for most of my life, I feared: I wasn’t good enough. That being an artifact of my childhood and growing up as I did. That was a collective aftermath. Yet, really it’s still upon me to reconcile the past. It’s on me to make peace with that, too. Again, in the words of O-Sensei, “True victory is victory over oneself.” So basically, I feared: I suck. And I feared that I would suck in the future, as well.
Perhaps being a little wiser, looking at my life lived, what I feared absolutely more than “I suck” was “What if I could be great?”
Well, then now I’m truly fucked. How in the world could I live up to expectations of greater? Now, the pressure is really on. So do I even dare to be great? Really, it’s way more chill to be comfortable. Yeah, way more chill to be ordinary.
Werner Erhard said that we get to choose who we are going to be in any given moment. Well, chill in ordinary is definitely easier. Throughout my life lived and some of its trials and tribulations, I’ve discovered: It’s okay to be uncomfortable. It’s okay to be uncomfortable when what I do or say is that meaningful to me. Because, if I choose to do something I want to make it count. In the bigger picture, I hope that I can make some difference in my varying spheres of influence both large and small.
In “The Man in the Arena” Theodore Roosevelt 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.Don’t like ads? Become a supporter and enjoy The Good Men Project ad free
Dare to fail bravely in the life worth living. Maybe, the life worth living dares to become greater. I dare to make what I do or say meaningful. Yes, I shall fail often and fail hard in daring for greater than I am now. Yet, if it’s meaningful enough to me, I’ll get up when I fall. I’ll endure. I’ll grind it out. I’ll “Make it work.”
Years ago, Sensei Bobby told me while I was training for Shodan, 1st-degree black belt, under Sensei Dan, “It’s time for you to get yelled at.” Yeah, as much as I feared failure or disappointing Sensei, I feared becoming my greater than self even more. “No, I can’t possibly be Shodan.” “No, I can’t possibly be great.”
Instead of listening to the voice in my head, I ground it out. I listened to Sensei speaking to me “loudly”. I endured because it was something meaningful to me.
Sure Sensei was just teaching Aikido, teaching technique. Sensei was ‘old school’. He was really teaching me character. He taught me to be a man with character. Thomas Hardy said, “Character is fate.” Amen. Amen.
I passed my Shodan test. I passed my 2nd- and 3rd-degree black belt tests, as well. Sensei promoted me to 4th-degree black belt about 9 years ago. At each juncture, I still feared becoming greater, although less and less. I kind of got over myself, finally.
Sensei really didn’t care about rank per se. He wanted me to “just train.” No, I didn’t have to get anywhere. I had keep reinventing the greater version of myself. I got that I pass on everything Sensei gifted to me over our years together on to others. Making that kind of difference was the way to honor the Man, who was a Father for me, making me the man I wanted to become.
Yeah, I think we all fear failure. Perhaps, what we fear even more so is becoming greater, becoming great. So when you feel that knot in your gut, that doubt in your heart, cut yourself some slack. Forgive your own humanity.
Grant yourself permission to be great, to be greater than you know yourself to be. So you’ll fail. It’s inevitable. When that happens: Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Learn from the failure. Grind it out. Move forward.
Give yourself permission to be great. Give yourself permission to be human. Do or say something, because it’s meaningful to you, and meaningful to others, too. Just saying.
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