Why, When Do We Stop Reaching For The Skies?

As toddlers, we tried to reach for anything that would help us up, help us stand on our feet. We failed a few times, but we keep at it, until we got it right. Growing up, we reached for everything that poses a challenge, be it a high tree branch, a jar of cookies on the shelf, a monkey bar in the playground or anything else that gave us a sense of accomplishment. Later in life, we reach for social acceptance, materialistic happiness and for personal satisfaction. In short, we spend our entire lives trying to reach for things that are out of our reach and it gives us a sense of pride and joy when we attain what seemed to be unreachable at one point.

I guess the people who try reaching the most, are whom we refer to as ‘go-getters’. But not all people are the same, are they? You’ve your go-getters, the languid folks and then the category that falls in between – the ‘in-betweeners’. The fact is that the earnestness with which we reach for the unattainable, gradually diminishes as we grow older. Quite obviously, the vigor to succeed will not be the same in a 20-something and a 40-something. My point being that, we lose our child-like desire to succeed and take risks, the older we turn.

The go-getters are the warm, charming, persuasive and persistent people who ‘need’ to have what they want, once they’ve their eyes set on the goal. The languid people are the ones who’d be taking a nap, when opportunity comes knocking on the door. Hence, your conditioned mind would automatically lead you to believe that the in-betweeners are the kind of people who’d take a few risks and let the rest pass-by. Well, you’re wrong. Those folks are still go-getters. The in-betweeners are the kind of people who clearly know what they want, but either fumble along the way or would give-up very easily. I’d place myself in the latter category.

Why is it worse to be an in-betweener than languid? Because, languid folks are content being where they’re and the chances of them being remorseful over what they couldn’t have, is highly unlikely. They don’t expect to be the best at anything or have the best of anything. On the other hand, the in-betweener wants everything that the go-getter does, but does not know how to seize opportunities and even when they do, they fail miserably because of their lack of conviction in themselves. They often lose sight of what’s important, and try to ease their way out of any sticky situation, rather than confront and overcome.

Reaching For The Skies

The outcome and the possibility of failure petrify us. We’d rather not attempt at all, than attempt and be unsuccessful. I’m aware of this and I’m sure you’re too, but what I don’t get is, between the time from being a toddler to maturing into an adult, what changed? Why are we so afraid? What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe the answer is in T. H. Palmer’s poem ‘Try, Try Again’ –

‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;

If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

Simple words, simple advice, which we all know and preach, yet most of us fail to adopt ourselves. Truth is, that we stop trying after a certain point in our lives. As long as it’s not physical inability that is keeping us from trying, we should be able to change. The mind can be trained, as we do throughout our lives, to fight and make the best out of everything, as if it were the last opportunity that would come our way. There’s no shame in failure; even your opponent will appreciate the fact that you gave it your all. Even you’ll begin to accept and appreciate yourself, for trying, for reaching, even if you fail. Like the cliched proverb goes, “Failure is nothing but stepping stones to success.” 🙂

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