I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt about the difference between people who try and people who criticize those who make mistakes.
“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.”
Sophie’s first request of the day had been to have “frozen peas and corn and carrots” for breakfast. Her second was to put on gloves. When she combined the two, the grown-up in me wanted to tell her to remove the gloves first, that it’s a little tricky to hold a spoon with gloves on, that her gloves will get dirty. Or maybe more so that I envision the spilled milk and peas I’d be cleaning off of a table and chair and floor and 2-year-old.
But I was in a “whatever” mood, so I let her have at it. It took a few tries, and she eventually, successfully grasped the spoon between thumb and palm. She even managed to scoop up some veggies and, more than once, shovel them into her mouth. Next, she ditched the spoon and tried to pick up each individual kernel by hand, er, glove, which worked for about three bites. Then she sat there, staring at the bowl until I told her she could take off the gloves if she wanted. She held them up for me to remove them and dove back in to breakfast. And now she knew what it was like to wear gloves while eating breakfast, or what it feels like for an astronaut to use a screw driver on a space walk.
I thought about her experiment this morning when I was feeling thankful I hadn’t passed on the National Novel Writing Month challenge.
A lot of times we see a situation, run a quick assessment and judge that the most likely outcome of certain options is not worth the time, the effort, or worse, could fail miserably. Maybe we even pass along our knowledge to other people whether they’ve asked for it or not. Maybe we’re right. Maybe we save everyone a bunch of time and headache. But maybe, once in a while, we miss out on little lessons, or great fun, by being so practical.
I have written more than 25,000 words of my book in less than two weeks — the halfway mark in the challenge to reach 50,000 words by the end of November. About a week before it began, I started to think I should pass. I have a lot on my plate raising a couple of kids, taking a German language course, and committing myself more to blogging here and for Walking On Travels, a family travel blog I joined this summer. I felt overwhelmed at the idea that I’d have to find another 2,000 words every day for what would, could, become the biggest story I’d ever undertaken. NaNoWriMo seemed too lofty a goal.
But I stuck with it, thought I’d try it out even if I had to quit part way through. At least I’d know better my limits. And here I sit, halfway through this marathon with a pace that will have me finished before the deadline, barring any major meltdowns. Needless to say, I’m so glad I tried, am trying still.
And I’m glad Sophie tried to eat her cereal while wearing gloves. Maybe she learned it’s not her thing. Maybe she learned she can pick up tiny things while wearing bulky things. Either way she learned something, and that’s the point.
Why not try something new just to see if you can?
Why not try something that seems hard?
Why not be silly?
Why not see if there’s a new way to do a boring old task?
Why not do something that takes more time if it makes you happy?
Why not get in there and get dirty?