Today was a day of rest. 13 hours of sleep. Yawn! I’ve read books, watched some shows, and just chilled to the 10th degree. I keep having this life theme come to me recently. Have you had that, where a certain thought or idea that pertains to your life keeps presenting itself to you? I’m going to try to get it across. Here goes!

RISK.

When you participate in competative sports as an adult you risk thinking that everyone is fighting for something on a daily basis. I keep forgetting that most people (adults mainly) go about their lives, working their jobs, raising strong families, paying mortgages, getting oil changes, and what not. Rarely are the bulk of people out there investing signifigant amounts of time, energy, and resources towards something they are truely passionate about, something where in the end, they may fall flat on their face, “failing” in a monumentous way.

Monumentous Failure…

Personally…loosing a piece of themselves in the failure by attaching your self image in what you do

Socially…the Titanic was built by people who risked much and failed in an epic and sad way

Politically…Sarah Palin type of behavior…there’s nowhere to even start here.

But still, I tend to wonder how many people are actually out there risking much on a daily or yearly cycle, submitting themselves to ego burning, passion draining, financial black holes.

The last couple days I have been addicted to dance. I’ve always loved and appreciated dance. My mom put me in lots of classes when I was young. I was not an athlete, I danced. I’ve been watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and today I watched a documentary on “A Chorus Line” that was phenomenal called “Every Little Step”.

And again, the theme reappeared. Risk, and not just risk, but the failure attached to that risk. I jotted down a few quotes from Every Little Step that struck a chord with me.

“Each night you go on stage it’s opening night but also closing night. You don’t know for sure. The hardest thing is when you can’t dance”

Every time we train for something and we invest our time and a piece of ourself, we never know whether that performance will be our encore, or our debut. I think even the professionals feel this, it could be your first or your last moment doing something you cherish.

Another quote that spoke to me.

“It’s so deep that I don’t want it to hurt that bad, it’s like loving someone”

When you give yourself over to something you love and there is a real chance of coming up short, I get the angst. I get the pressure. It’s not external, it comes from loving what you do and knowing that if you don’t do it to the best of your abilities, that you are squandering an opportunity. We all know love can make us feel on the top of the world, or it can shatter our heart.

“You have to go in, commit 100%, be totally passionate and risk it not working out.”

And this is what it comes down to. In life, if you are one of those souls that is living your days on earth working diligenty at something you love, something you can fail at, the only chance of true success is to dive head first into it, laying your heart, your ego, and your passion on the line.

I don’t know if anyone reading this watches So You Think You Can Dance but there is this super cute kid who grew up on a farm and has made it through the tryouts. He was getting critiqued during the show and one of the judges said to him:

“As much as you like people to approve of you and tell you your good, I don’t think you take it very well, I don’t think it feels comfortable”

to which he replied;

“When I feel like I put everything into it, it usually doesn’t work out and I feel like I came here and I expected to learn and to chill in the background…you made me think I could be on it [the show], and I thought, if I give all this, it’s not going to happen”

I have never felt the concept of risk and failure being articulated so well. I completely understood the fear of putting so much into something you love and somehow knowing that because you love it so much, you are going to fail in an EPIC way, because there is no way you could love it this much AND have your dreams come true.

That dancer was wrong, as am I. I have shown myself over and over that you can invest all that you have, and that sometimes life delivers great results, and also, sometimes, life doesn’t deliver any results, and the world continues to turn. You grow and heal and move on, pick yourself up, try again, and are oddly better for it.

All of the quotes above were from people who were “trying out” for something, they were on the cusp of discovered greatness, just at the knife edge where things can go either way.

On this day, I greatly sympathize.

It doesn’t matter that tons of people have done what I’m trying to do. Tons have been on Broadway, tons have made it to Kona, been up Everest, tons tons tons…nothing we do is unique. But the heart that it takes to invest 100%, to risk an “endo”, a “faceplant”, well, those who have been there are united by those feelings.

I feel it. And I can not get my point across in any other way to you all.

Am I excited? Heck yea.

Do I feel blessed to even be out here? Yes.

Is it fun? Yes.

Is going fast and being successful and hitting your goals fun? Yes.

Can you get scared that you have invested too much? Yes.

Is it a struggle to let go, throw caution to the wind, and focus on what you can control? Definitely.

Like I said at the beginning, I don’t think that most people running around on this earth are in this place. I don’t think most people delve deeply into something that may go horribly south. And in some sense, that makes me sad, because I know the joy of when it all goes right. But on the other hand, what would our world look like if everyone was out there investing themselves deeply and passionately into what drives their heart? Whew, I can not even imagine the intensity!

I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I’m not afraid of falling into my inkpot. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then Ralph, you are a better person than I.

Although I am totally afraid of falling into my inkpot, I still dip my pen in the blackest ink. ~Sonja Wieck

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17 Comments

  1. Someone sent me a link to this post and I wanted to say I love it! It’s really great! I feel the same way about taking risks although I’m not a triathlete. (I’m am considering an off-road sprint int he fall but don’t tell anyone. πŸ˜‰ )
    Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  2. Awesome post. I’m not gunna lie. I’m a huge So You Think You Can Dance fan. The girl’s abs and legs are reason enough to watch every week… πŸ˜‰

    Seriously though, I think there are two types of people. Those that are crippled by the fear of investing insane amounts of time and energy into something they are passionate about, and those that cannot live without without that risk.

    I think 95% of triathletes are that second group.

    If there wasn’t any risk with triathlon of not hitting a PR (or even making it to the finish line), the value in reaching that goal would be a sliver of what it could be.
    Big risk. Big reward. Big smiles.

  3. super inspiring! great to meet with ya in quassy, even though it was only for a short while.

  4. LOVE this post and, as always, you give me much to think about on my own personal road! Thank you! What is life w/ some risk, failure and fun.. or shall I say risk, fun and failure! What good would the successes be if you didn’t fall flat on your face every now and then!!??? Now go get em girl!

  5. Hey, Son…read this last night and didn’t comment, but after thinking about you all during my swim today, I just wanted to let you know a little something.

    You have taken huge risks to achieve what you are shooting for…of that, I am certain. If you fail (which I seriously doubt), you could certainly look at it as failure, but think of all the successes that have come with it.
    1. You have inspired and pushed me beyond what I thought was possible(I will speak only for myself, but I’m guessing more than one person would agree with me.)
    2. You have shown us what it is like to push, compete, and win with grace, humor, and selflessness.
    3. You have shown us what it means to work hard and be passionate about the things you love.
    4. You have done all of this and shared the good and the bad with us.
    5. You have done all of this, all the while being a wonderful mother, wife and friend.

    I could go on, and I’m sure other readers of this blog could as well. Kona or not, you are an inspiration and if that is failing, sign me up for failure with a side of losing!!

  6. Awesome post, I just read it twice. You are awesome – keep up the hard work. Risk and failure in attempting a goal is much better than sitting back, letting it go by, and not even attempting to go for it.

  7. People who are passionate about their work, whatever that work may be, always learn even when falling down. Jim always tells me see winning as opposed to failure. And never attach self-esteem to it. No matter what, I can always learn when I follow my passions while loving others. Sometimes you fight for things and those you love the most are the only ones who understand. Check out a cool story about Levi’s bike mechanic. Pretty inspiring.

  8. fantastic post Sonja. this is a topic that has resonated very strongly with me throughout my entire life but very much at my current place! my brother and i often speak about why it is that we can’t take a job and be one of those people who come in each day, go unnoticed, and leave without making a sound. most people, for various reasons or another, lose their passion early, take the “easy” way. the best things in life certainly don’t come easy and most people give up when it gets moderately difficult. intentionally setting big goals looks even more profound because it’s a concious decision when one could just as easy just go through the motions. it takes courage to go after something with all you have and most people don’t get that sort of commitment. it’s scary. keep up the great work Sonja, just know that you are not alone in your thoughts and that the risk of failure is worth it if for just one moment you can experience even a piece of joy you worked so hard to achieve!

  9. Word.

    And, yet another reason why we are practically the same person: I was in dance as a kiddie, too (all the way up to high school!)

  10. What a great post! I totally agree that taking risks is so worth it even if it’s really scary!

    I have to tell you, last night as we were driving home I was thinking about how it’s almost time for CdA again (I can’t believe it’s been a year!) and I just started getting really excited for you! I totl my husband that I’m sure you’re going to make it to kona. He thinks it’s funny how I talk about my blog/Twitter friends like I really know them! Anyway, I’m so excited for you and I’m sure all this black ink that you’ve dipped into will write a beautiful story! (is that too cheesy? Haha)

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