The Best Facebook Post By Someone I Barely Know

I’ve written a lot already about how I felt before I left for New York. In a nutshell, 51% scared out of my mind, 49% excited. But I forgot one of the best details of the departure. I’d made the last minute decision to drive to LAX the night before my flight and sleep in the airport. When I dropped off my car (more on this later and how this paid my rent) I sat alone, waiting while they checked my car in, trying to think optimistic excited thoughts in hopes of pushing the nervous anxiety out of mind. 

Maybe you’re the type of person that’s really good at taking hold of worries or anxious thoughts and redirecting them. This hasn’t been  my strong suit. My propensity is to start listening to the worry and decide that whatever it is I’m worrying about is DEFINITELY going to happen, will definitely be terrible, irreversible, far-reaching, and will probably mean my friends will disown me, I will be permanently unemployable, my teeth and hair will fall out, I will develop 8 different rare diseases, and will end up living under a bridge. Now, I’ve had many a wise, patient friend encourage me that things probably won’t be as bad as I fear they’ll be, and guys, thank you so deeply much for that hope and for the times you said you’ll still be my friend even when I have those freak out moments. You’ve managed to find such encouraging ways to essentially  say, “seriously, calm the F down.”

 All this to say, if you also are one who tends to get carried away with your own anxiety, I hear you. Sometimes we just need something outside our own head to restore our hope that somehow, all manner of things shall be well.

So it’s 1:30 AM and I’m sitting in the parking lobby alone when I happen to check Facebook to pass the time.   And a notification: my newish friend Eric has commented on a quote I posted last summer, that I reread right now. 

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
-Teddy Roosevelt

He didn’t say much about the quote, but what was significant was being brought back to it, right in this moment. I don’t know if I have effectively set this story up so you can feel how it felt to be alone embarking on a six-week cross-country adventure and on the precipice of it all to be reminded from an unlikely place  at just the right time that it is far better to dare mighty things then to settle for simply playing it safe and risking nothing all your life.  And to be clear, my choices are not better or more noble than anyone who happens to be taking a different path right now. I just felt a deep need to take some risks and dare to live a little more boldly than I had been.   And sitting in the lobby, rereading this quote,  I hoped that maybe I was on to something .  

Thinking about life in New York and meeting people from all different backgrounds, I’m realizing that philosophically, I don’t exactly believe in simple coincidences. I seem to believe there’s a God who designed our lives as stories full of awesome and unexpected moments and plot twists, and that there is a thread of hope that runs through that story- and even when you don’t know where to find it, sometimes it’s just freely, undeservedly given to you, like from someone you don’t even know well who just happens to comment on your Facebook.  

Two days later I was sitting in the family room after Aaron and Caty had gone to sleep, flipping through a magazine when on the back I noticed a beautiful ad that lo and behold, shared the same quote.  Again alone, with time and space to contemplate life, it felt that if our lives really are a narrative of adventure, I was a little more excited to see how this chapter would unfold.

  

It is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.

The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

 

“The Man in the Arena: Citizenship in a Republic”

Address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1923.

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