Every so often I get the itch to read quotes by people who are difference makers in some way in the world, or at least they were in their time. Sometimes the older the better, because the reality is the quote is likely as relevant now as it was in its time, maybe even more relevant.
A lot of the most relevant quotes have to do with character. As much as it pains me to say it, I know as well as anyone that the character of young adults is likely not what it should be. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of the ‘me first’ mentality out there, and that usually means that we put ourselves above everything, don’t risk for anyone or anything, and aren’t willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to go sacrifice and risk everything for anyone, but a little here and there for those we care about means a lot to them, and can help us all really experience life.
Before anyone gets all defensive, I know what it’s like to sacrifice something to make getting through an awful situation easier, and as far as risk goes, I emptied my bank account and moved to a new city where I knew almost no one two weeks before Christmas last year, because I decided at 31 years old the best way to get my life going in a better direction was to start over. Every step is a step in the right direction in the end, as long as we keep steering.
I won’t keep ranting, just wanted to get everyone in the right mindset going into reading todays installment. I got onto this idea because of two things, the guy that felt he was more important than the people in line at the post office today got me thinking about the character of people, and remembering this (a favourite) quote from Ernest Hemingway: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”
That got me thinking about the most important trait of all, vulnerability. How I read Hemingway’s quote is that those valuable characteristics in the best people make them vulnerable, so to be your best you have to be willing to be vulnerable. I hope that I capture that with this poem, it would be a bit of an injustice to screw up interpreting a literary great.
My history can change because it’s still in the making.
The risks ahead of me are always worth taking.
Except for my character, I can sacrifice anything.
When it comes to the truth, I will hold back nothing.
I will find the beauty out there in this world.
I have the courage to chase it, even when my life becomes unfurled.
Through all my days, I will be constantly swirled.
Into life, I am always ready to be hurled.
Wounds may slow me, and I may even be destroyed.
That cannot stop me from being deployed.
No matter what I find I will not be annoyed.
Anything out there might keep me safely buoyed.
I may be vulnerable by putting myself out there.
But my vulnerability is what makes me stronger, not easier to scare.