Frustration is the common lot of mankind. Every one of us on occasion will find ourselves bewildered. And it’s at these times that we say things like, “I’m taking two steps forward and three steps back or I’m beating my head against the wall.” It becomes rather easy to speak in negative tones when things aren’t going well.
Rudyard Kipling said this: “If you can……watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools; if you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss;……You’ll be a Man, my son!”
Most of us at some point have heard those lines by Kipling. It’s from the poem that he chose to title, If. “IF” is such a pointed word. It basically levels a finger at all of us. The fact is that every important and crucial aspect of human life is bound up in that little word. We all have been faced with this menacing little word, but few of us have acted bravely upon it.
The word “IF” brings with it a feeling that we must do something. Over the course of time our world has become a better place because of the necessity laid upon us. The Pilgrim Fathers, whom some are privileged to count and other would be delighted to count as their ancestors were able to turn defeat into victory. During that first cold winter in Plymouth, one half of the population died. Yet when the Mayflower came back to England in the spring, not a single colonist gave up and sailed back with her. Every man and woman left alive was valiant enough to fight on, to persevere in building up a worthy civilization and culture. This is the American legacy.
Unfortunately many people have little of this Pilgrim steadfastness. We give up too quickly; we retreat too quickly. We hear stories about Beethoven who was deaf; Milton who was blind and we read of many more who showed their mettle in the face of adversity. And we are tempted to call these instances rare and the lot of great men, but has it ever occurred to us that we are made out the same stuff.
One of the glories of the human race is making music out of things that remain. Ordinary people excepting disappointments, setbacks and frustrations, but able to reach deep within themselves and find a new dimension in the spirit and something deep within that causes them to fight another day. No matter how troublesome the storm that rages, they refuse to haul down their flag. It seems that they were just bewildered to fight better.