… But one day, when across the Field of Fame the goal seemed dim,
The wise old coach, Experience, came up and spoke to him.
‘Old Boy,’ he said, ‘the main point now before you win your bout
Is keep on bucking Failure till you’ve worn that piker out!
‘And, kid, cut out this fancy stuff – go in there, low and hard;
Just keep your eye upon the ball and plug on, yard by yard,
And more than all, when you are thrown or tumbled with a crack,
Don’t sit there whining – hustle up and keep on coming back;
‘Keep coming back with all you’ve got, without an alibi,
If Competition trips you up or lands upon your eye,
Until at last above the din you hear this sentence spilled:
‘We might as well let this bird through before we all get killed.’
‘You’ll find the road is long and rough, with soft spots far apart,
Where only those can make the grade who have the Uphill Heart.
And when they stop you with a thud or halt you with a crack,
Let Courage call the signals as you keep on coming back.
‘Keep coming back, and though the world may romp across your spine,
Let every game’s end find you still upon the battling line;
For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost – but how you played the Game.’
Grantland Rice, Alumnus Football
Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.
So far this my favorite part of Frank Deford’s new book:
“… In this country, when you’re so damn young and impressionable, it’s especially exhilarating, playing for your school, with the pretty cheerleaders jumping up and down and fans yelling for you. Young tits and the roar of the crowd - all your life, you might never beat that.
There’s some room for interpretation there, but I like to view it positively. You know, better to have loved and lost, and all that…
With my vacation underway and 90-degree temperatures predicted for this weekend, here’s an ode to summer from Paul Laurence Dunbar (via Wright State University Libraries):
So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.
And Eugene watched the slow fusion of the seasons;
He saw the royal processional of the months;
He saw the summer light eat like a river into dark;
He saw dark triumphant again
And he saw the minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death.
In summer, full day had come before he finished:
He walked home in a world of wakenings.
The first cars were grouped on the square as he passed,
Their new green paint giving them the pleasant appearance of toys.
The huge battered cans of the milkmen glinted cleanly in the sun.
Light fell hopefully upon the swarthy greasiness, George Charkales.
Nightman of the Athens Café.
The Hellenistic Dawn.
And in Uneeda No. 1, upon the Square, Eugene sat
Washing an egg sandwich down with long swallows of pungent coffee
Stooled in a friendly company of motormen, policemen, chauffeurs, plasterers, and masons.
It was very pleasant, he felt, to complete one’s work
When all the world was beginning theirs
He went home under singing trees of birds.
In autumn, a late red moon rode low in the skies till morning.
The air was filled with dropping leaves.
There was a solemn thunder of great trees upon the hills;
Sad, phantasmal whisperings and the vast cathedral muse deepened in his heart.
In winter, he went down joyously into the dark howling wind
Leaning his weight upon its advancing wall as it swept up a hill.
And when in early spring the small cold rain fell from the reeking sky,
He was content. He was alone.