I Will While Daring Greatly
Let me be completely upfront with you. I’m a quasi-retired 75-year old professor who in his twilight years has embarked on a deeply held dream. I fully understand, as the shadows in my life get longer and longer, that I have a limited amount of time left to realize my dream. I have already signed the legal documents for We Are Family, LLC.
However, that is merely the backstory. Interestingly, Steve Jobs observed, that it is in looking back upon past events that we are able to connect the dots.
I agree; it is looking back upon my life that I see and understand things more clearly than at any particular time of my journey. Over a half century ago, I was standing in front of my English teacher reciting Teddy Roosevelt’s paragraph, Man in the Arena.
The Man in the Arena is but one paragraph of a much longer speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. The following is that single paragraph called the Man in the Arena.
I thought that I understood Roosevelt’s point as I recited it in front of my English teacher. However, looking back upon my life, my understanding was purely a cursory one. At this end of my life, I have connected the dots. There are several things have affected my understanding. Dancing with death certainly was the most important contributor of understanding my life.
The other major factor was my two trips to Myanmar/Burma. Of all the many countries that I have visited, gone to school or taught in, Myanmar is head and shoulders above all the other nations. On my first trip, I had a tour guide by the name of Moh Moh. As chance would have it, she had to pick up some paperwork for me at her home. In the process of explaining what she needed to do, she mentioned that her nine-year-old daughter was home on winter break. While she picked up the paperwork, Ti Ti and I played Scrabble for nearly an hour. I left Ti Ti that day feeling that she was my granddaughter.
I returned four years later and spent a week with my family. During the week, I mentioned to Ti Ti that the laptop that I brought with me was for basically one reason…to store videos and photos that I took while in Myanmar. If I returned to the States with my laptop, I would put it on my bookshelf where it would collect dust. Nevertheless, Ti Ti is brilliant and an extremely smart person, she could benefit from using it. Hence, it became her laptop.
That created two problems for me. One is that the Internet bandwidth is so limited, that Ti Ti has limited access to surfing the web. The other issue is that my nuclear family has a laptop, but what about my extended family in Myanmar. Ti Ti, Snow, Fatty, and their parents are a part of my nuclear family, but the students with whom they go to school are my extended family. The number of classmates that my grandchildren know at school rarely, if ever, can google something or pull up some webpage.
My love for my nuclear family pushed me to deal with helping others…who I also view as my family. Here I am today, in the process of raising a half million dollars. I need 1250 laptops for the students who attend the two schools where my three grandchildren go. Additionally, I need to use some of the money to drastically improve Internet reception. So, between the laptops and improved Internet access I need a great deal of help.
That is the basis of my three-prong appeal to all my readers:
This connects the dots to Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena. As lofty as my dream might seem to you and as much as I am driven, what if I am the man in the arena and fails to achieve my dream of caring for 1250 students in an emerging nation? Supposing I am, as Roosevelt said, the one “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.”
I don’t believe that I will fail. I get daring greatly. I can taste that statement. However, what if my time in the arena doesn’t yield me success. I can at least say that I tried…. Yes, I failed, but I am not the coward growling in the corner of a meaningless life. I was in the arena giving a purpose of my life for the hopes and dreams of 1250 students in a distant and developing nation a half world away from me.
However, more importantly, my failure is a teaching moment to my friends and my family. At least, I showed them how to live their lives daring greatly. Interestingly, Steve Biko, the black activist during the years of apartheid in South Africa, said a similar comment before he was killed, “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
In the final analysis, I will have succeeded either in success or failure. Interestingly, I just invented a great oxymoron. Now, for the moment, apply my oxymoron to your struggle in life while daring greatly.
Back to my dream. Let me know how you will help me.
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "We Are Family" page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the On Seeing the Light page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Man in the Arena page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "Don Quixote" page to read more about this topic.