Today is Teddy Roosevelt’s birthday, which I bring up because his is the ultimate story about staring adversity in the face, grinning and spitting in its eye.
TR was a sickly boy whose asthma often left him struggling for breath. He could have used that as an excuse early on to avoid life’s big challenges. Instead, he lifted weights obsessively and built himself into a bull of a man who would live what he called “the strenuous life” until it drove him to the grave.
TR went through a lot of bad stuff in his life. Let me demonstrate with a little help from Wikipedia:
–Sickly and asthmatic as a child, Roosevelt had to sleep propped up in bed or slouching in a chair during much of his early years, and had frequent ailments.
–His first wife Alice died young of an undiagnosed case of kidney failure two days after their infant Alice was born. His mother Mittie died of typhoid fever on the same day, eleven hours earlier, in the same house.
–His youngest son was shot down behind German lines during the first world war.
Despite all that hell, he lived every day like it was his last.
–He was a prolific author, writing with passion on subjects ranging from foreign policy to the importance of the national park system. wrote about 18 books (each in several editions), including his Autobiography, The Rough Riders History of the Naval War of 1812, and others on subjects such as ranching, explorations, and wildlife. His most ambitious book was the four volume narrative The Winning of the West, which connected the origin of a new “race” of Americans (i.e. what he considered the present population of the United States to be) to the frontier conditions their ancestors endured throughout the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries.
–He was a political warrior. We all know he was president, but before that he was governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, vice president, NY police commissioner and a state assemblyman.
–While running to win back the presidency in 1912 (he didn’t succeed), he was shot in the chest. He delivered his speech anyway, speaking for 90 minutes.
–After the presidency, he lived hard right to the end, going on expeditions of Africa and South America (the latter journey nearly killing him) and staying active in politics.
I think of him whenever I have a tough day, get sick or experience tragedy. He never took it lying down, and neither will I.
So, what’s your excuse?