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, and 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 the 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,
his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.
(President Theodore Roosevelt)
“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something bad enough. They are there to keep out other people.” (Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture)
Read those two passages again, noting which phrases resonate with you.
What people come to mind when you read these statements? What did those individuals teach you?
What experiences surface from your own past: What do you know of failure and valor and brick walls? What lessons did you learn in the midst of them? What did you learn about God and yourself?
Which Bible passages do these stories illustrate?
What stories can you write—about your own experience or someone else’s—that will pass on wisdom and tenacity and faith to your memoir’s readers?