True Grit

“Experience is a good teacher,
but she beats her students.”
—Mike Hamel

In our prime we jumped into each new day like paratroopers. No chute? No problem. We leapt anyway; confident we’d find one on the way down. The terrain below didn’t matter; we dropped into new schools, relationships, careers, communities, businesses and churches with aplomb (1. imperturbable self-possession, poise. 2. the perpendicular, or vertical, position.).

Back in the day we could focus like Cyclopes and multitask like Hydras. We were resilient, healing quickly when we turned an ankle or broke a leg. We bonded easily but could release the familiar to embrace the unknown.

But gravity takes its toll over time. Youth dissipates, injuries accumulate and vitality shrinks along with our telomeres. We lose friends and loved ones along the way. We’re not as quick to answer the Jumpmaster’s bark as we inevitably transition from active duty, to reserves, to retired.

Painful experience and personal loss temper us as we age; the challenge is to not become brittle. To finish well requires a different caliber of courage that’s more obstinate than audacious, more cerebral than adrenal. It’s seen in the daily choice to show up instead of check out, to stay in the game and play through the pain for as long as possible.

Few acts are more heroic—or difficult.

3 thoughts on “True Grit

  1. Good thoughts from a good guy! Courage (at this stage of life) is a choice and a commitment. Definitely the cerebral replaces what was adrenal. So glad you’re showing up, in this blog
    and in real life!

  2. Mike, I think heroic is exactly the right word as you use it. The ability to embrace loss, grief and limitations without becoming bitter or passive is truly heroic. Keep showing up; we need you.

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