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, 26th President of the United States of America
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Think about that for a moment.
Look at how accurately President Roosevelt depicted the individual who "grinds it out day in day out". Credit is due to those who do what they say they will do, not to those watching and commentating on whether or not that one individual out of a million will end up following through.
Too often do we find people who are all talk; who say they will do something but never even try.
But out of every million people, there is one amongst them willing to give it there all.
One willing to step foot in the arena.
One who proclaims that no matter what happens, they will take that first step.
They will show the world that they stood up to what they said they would do, or at least try to do, with honor.
Now, it doesn't mean that once they step in the arena it will be all sunshine and rainbows. That is farthest from the truth.
Anyone who's been in the arena of life, more specifically the arena of obtaining a dream, will know that once you step foot in that arena, it is as if all hell breaks loose.
It is as if the universe looks you in the eye and asks "Is this what you truly want to do? Is this what you truly want to obtain? Is this what your heart truly desires? Well then, prove it you rascal."
Because there will be countless shortcomings. You will be defeated time and time again. The universe will throw everything it has against you. It will be as if you are walking barefoot in a pitch black tunnel who's path is covered with thorns, unable to see the light.
Now, some people will at least try to step foot in the tunnel, and good for them.
But President Roosevelt was not giving complete credit to those people. Rather, he gave credit to those one in every million who take the first step, then the second, then the third; regardless of how bloody their feet are.
Maybe you will stumble and fall in the 70th step, the 700th, or even the 7th, but if you keep going even with your whole body covered by cuts and bruises, that credit is due to you.
You know why? Because no matter how much it hurts, no matter how much you want to give up in the moment, no matter how many sacrifices you've had to make, you don't stop moving. You keep taking step after step. And even when there is no apparent reason to keep going, you force yourself to take another step, then another, then another.
When it seems illogical and idiotic to those around you to keep going, you remind yourself why you started. This journey is bigger than yourself. Each loss is extra motivation to keep going and to strive gallantly in a worthy cause. As Denzel Washington famously proclaimed, "Fall Forward."
And as President Roosevelt said, "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,"
Even if the worst comes, however, and one does not have enough energy to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, at least that one in a million is not from amongst the critics. At least he stepped foot in the arena.
Let me tell you from the bottom of my heart. There are so many times I want to give up. There are so many setbacks. It's as if in order to obtain one victory in tennis, I must first carry the burden of 10 consecutive losses. I won't shy away from my progress. My first college tennis season started last week, and I've been crushed in every single match. I still haven't won a match yet, despite all the hours on and off the court I've been putting into tennis.
I was going to give up yesterday. I really was. My teammates try to cut me some slack and tell me stuff like "Khalid, don't sweat it bro. You're a beast." or "Look at coach putting you up there as one of the top players as a Freshman. You've only started college tennis. You'll get some wins eventually."
But no matter what they've tried to say to cheer me up, almost nothing has worked.
Except for that one excerpt from President Roosevelt's speech "Man in the Arena."
One of my teammates showed me that after one of the losses I took, and it really hit home.
With all my losses, I strive to be one of the men in the arena, and I pray that someone who ends up reading this will strive to be one too.
Commit Alchemy, Always.
One final note: Be sure to check out The Dreamer's Alchemy Merch. We've created the brand so that not only do members of our international community can continue to help spread the message of Alchemy, but to proclaim to the world that Self-Alchemy is real, and that you are from amongst those few willing to obtain their dreams. My team and I have ensured that all of our products are the highest quality we could obtain. If anyone really wants to purchase merch but does not have the financial capabilities to, let us know. Discounts will be considered. Peace Be Upon You.