Life’s Greatest Accomplishment Is In Living

November 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

One of my closest friends is a man in his mid-70s.  We met about ten years ago in New York City.  He had produced a few films and I was looking for financing for a picture I wanted to make.  We ended up working together and still are very good friends.

A few months ago, while visiting me in LA, my friend said if there was something he regretted very much not having known while younger:  he was referring to the undue pressure he had put on himself to “be” and to do were just that; undue.  He wasn’t talking about working to provide for himself, wife and daughter.  He was talking about our compulsiveness to occupy every second of our lives with something to do as well as our eternal fight to prove to others and ourselves that we are indeed important.

I’m thinking about my friend because my Junior High School class is coming together after decades of no contact.  We have now created a Facebook page and a Yahoo group for ourselves.  What is interesting to me is that since the email exchanges have started there has been a great deal of closeness without any posturing.  What I mean is: so far no one has gone hiding behind their accomplishments.  We are just happy to be reconnecting and sharing past stories we remember of when we were in class together. I’m sure, eventually, what we have done with our lives will come up, but for now what is most important is the journey.  There is palpable excitement as we celebrate being out in the ring even when we remember friends who are no longer with us.  What concrete successes we have had are not most important.  What is, is that those kids you were still too young to know the complexities of life, are meeting up again in friendship based on nothing else but the love once shared.

The point I’m trying to make is we so often beat ourselves down for not having the bank account or the status to prove our worth when underneath it all what really matters is the journey we have taken.  That we were born, cried, laughed but are still journeying.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt:

There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

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.

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