I had forgotten my headphones, and couldn’t watch television to pass the time. I tried to sleep and I couldn’t. I flipped on my Kindle, and started reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. In it, was the exact wisdom I needed, drawn from Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Citizenship in a Republic’ speech of 1910, also known as ‘The Man in the Arena’.
It is not the critic who counts, but the (wo)man who is actually in the arena. Brene’s book is written around the premise that ‘If I fail, at least I fail while daring greatly.’ She says we will all get kicked down in the arena if we dare to live a courageous life.
I walked off that plane feeling a whole lot better. My daughter Ella and her boyfriend Eisech were waiting to give me a hug at the airport. They kindly drove me to my hotel. I got my room key and took the elevator to the 7th floor. The elevator doors opened, and I was treated to this:
After all my ‘climbing back onto that horse’ metaphors, I had apparently been assigned to a room on the ‘horse’ floor at Fantasyland Hotel. I decided to take this as a sign.
I ordered mac ‘n cheese and cheesecake from room service. I had a bath and drank some tea. The next morning, Ella generously brought me a flat white from Starbucks. We went for a lovely breakfast together. Just before I went up to the conference room, a rather disheveled gentleman walked past me. Rather than look away, I looked him in the eye and smiled.
Hello, he said. How are you?
Good! I said.
Good! he said back. He paused for a moment: God bless you, he said.
Thank you, said I, and then he was gone.
And with that, I marched right back up behind that podium. My girl Ella, who is heading into nursing this fall, was in the audience. Seeing her there gave me great strength. She and her gentle heart are the great hope for nursing’s future.
The audience at the Canadian Rehabilitation Nurses conference could not have been more engaged, interested and open-hearted. At the end, the nurse who had introduced me said she couldn’t come up to say a proper thank you because she was crying too hard. (Crying in a good way, thankfully). It was such a privilege to thank nurses for the important work they do to help patients and families heal. In the end, I did feel blessed.
I’m on the other side of being kicked down in the arena. As Brene says, “to put our…ideas out the world with no assurance of acceptance – that’s vulnerability.” For those of us championing a worthy cause, please keep climbing onto that horse and back into the arena. The worst case scenario happened to me, and I survived. And if it happens to you, you will too. Don’t give up. Take a little break and then keep going.