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Never Give Up!

December 24, 2013

Teddy27bed084c19454f85bdccd7b27993d5673113621_389x292churchillI am subscribed to; a site where you can watch speakers on topics ranging from the practical to the sublime, but none have impacted me more than a presentation recorded at a conference in San Francisco that featured Diana Nyad, a powerful woman who on September 2, 2013 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. This 64 year young woman, on her fifth attempt, did something no one of any gender or age had been able to do and, as she points out over and over again during her presentation, she did it with a team. Tears filled my eyes as I listened (over and over) to this magnificent woman refer to two of my favorite speakers of an earlier time; Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt.

At one of the darkest moment of World War II, during the Battle of Britain when England stood alone against the to that point undefeated German military machine, spoke to a group of school boys what has become to many his most resounding speech:

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

The phrase “…never give up…” resounds through the speech given by Ms. Nyad and, as it did for those school boys and the men and women of Great Britain in those dark days of the war, so it echoes within my own heart stirring within me a desire to move on, to dare greatly and again, as Ms. Nyad put it, to reach for the horizon not with a guarantee of attaining to that goal, but for the journey itself, to allow that journey to shape you into a better person than the one who started it.

There have been nay sayers, some whom I love and respect greatly, who have suggested I give up, I walk away from my dream. They see how this journey has already impacted me both physically and psychologically and would have me spare myself any additional harm. I’ve thought of it, of perhaps reaching for a different role in my chosen field, something that I could do and enjoy. But each time I consider such a course it seems yet another voice whispers to me, “…go on, keep at it…” Am I delusional? Perhaps; maybe I’m kidding myself and I should be content to sit at home and keep house for Kathy and continue with my various volunteer activities. On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt spoke on the topic of “Citizenship in a Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. His words still echo down the years as I face my own fears as well as my detractors, particularly a specific part of that speech:

“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.”

There is no guarantee of success, but to surrender to what many (including myself at times) feel is the inevitable outcome seems contrary to not only my faith, but to those who have come alongside me for this journey. Yes, as with Diana Nyad, I too have a team who support me. Without them this journey would not have started and yet no matter how this journey ends, I know they will still be with me. As Ms. Nyad quoted Thoreau, the person I am becoming through this journey, this trial will not be the same as the one who started it. With the support of my team and the help of my Savior, I will reach toward that horizon and grow into a better person for the effort.

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