He closes his eyes, and for a minute, there is silence.
As he walks out into the tunnel, he can feel the ground shaking.
The walls are dripping and there is a dirty musk in the air. His heart pounds.
As he approaches the threshold, he can feel the tension grow in his upper back and neck.
This path has been traveled by many, and only returned on by few.
He tries to breathe deep…only to be choked by the feeling looming in his stomach.
He walks out into the blinding light…eyes blurred and senses dulled. There’s that deafening sound of the crowd….and the pinging in his ears. He feels the crunch of the gravel and sand beneath his feet. There is a beed of sweat dripping down his brow waiting to fall, anticipating what is to come.
The warmth of the sun on his back relaxes his shoulders. His eyes refocus.
Out walks his opponent.
There he stands, that looming figure. As dark as a moonless night. Body shimmering with decorated steel. Piercing eyes as sharp as the blade he holds. A body meant for one thing…. destruction. His roar silences echoes throughout the arena.
As the crowd watches their hands are cold and impatient with anticipation. The noble men look on with curiosity in the safety of their pews. All waiting for the inevitable clash.
As he watches, his gut sinks, but only for a second. He kneels down, grabs a handful of the dirt beneath him, stained with sweat and blood, and lets it sift through his fingers. He runs his hand gently along the sharp blade, and grips the soft bending leather. He rises, and faces the figure across from him.
The scars on his body evoke memories of error. And as he stands there, staring into the dark eyes of the figure across from him, it comes over him. A sweeping feeling runs through his veins and into his fingertips. He digs his feet into the ground. He squeezes the handle and let’s out a cry that will be remembered for ages.
His eyes snap open quickly. He takes a deep breath, slides his hands over the wood and grips the sides of the podium. He is ready.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how….
Our lives are the arena. Most of the time, that looming figure across from us is fear. Fear not only to perform the specific act, but fear to actually accomplish something that you have been thinking about doing. Really sounds strange at first, but it happens. It is what keeps us from being great. That small fear of actually being a light out in the world for people to see and for many to judge. However, we must not play small.
I keep coming back to this speech because it is one of the best segments of a speech ever given. I read it every single morning while I brush my teeth. The credit goes to the man who is trying and failing. Not to those who look on a criticize that same man for the things he is doing. Always remember that. Do not be afraid of falling in the dust. Our scars define our story, and make it just that much more unique.
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