Ask Yourself, Are You in the Arena?

arenaEarlier this year in May, I got stuck in a small tent at 21,000 feet for days. Winds blew 80 knots and temperature went down to -50C.

We made an attempt to summit the highest mountain in North America but got turned back down by bad weather. We tried to get off the mountain but got turned back up. We nearly ran out of food and fuel.

After training for this expedition for many months and spending 3 weeks on the mountain, it was disheartening not to get a chance to properly try for the summit.

It would be some time before we got off the mountain safely and words of failure started to dominate camp conversation. I was only left to my thoughts, which weren’t so forgiving at times, and half a Mars bar.

There is one quote shared by a team mate and British Navy commander, that did lift my spirits and I’d like to share it with you today as it does not only apply in the Alaskan high ranges, but every day.

“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.” – Theodore Rosevelt

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