Over the past several years, I have been exploring the dynamics of responding positively to adverse events.  One of my earliest inspirations on this subject was the following poem by Dee Groberg…

 

THE RACE

by Dee Groberg  

 

 “Quit! Give Up! You’re beaten”

They shout at me and plead

“There’s just too much against you now

This time you can’t succeed”

 

And as I start to hang my head

In front of failure’s face

My downward fall is broken

By the memory of a race

 

And hope refills my weakened will

As I recall that scene:

For just the memory of that short race

Rejuvenates my being

 

 

                    II

 

A children’s race – young boys, young men

How I remember well.

Excitement, sure! But also fear:

It wasn’t hard to tell.

 

They all lined up so full of hope

Each thought to win that race

Or tie for first, or if not that,

At least take second place.

 

And fathers watched from off the side

Each cheering for his son

And each boy hoped to show his dad

That he would be the one

                      

The whistle blew and off they went

Young hearts and hopes afire

To win and be the hero there

Was each young boy’s desire

 

And one boy in particular

Whose dad was in the crowd

Was running in the lead and thought

“My dad will be so proud!”

 

But as they speeded down the field

Across a shallow dip

The little boy who thought to win

Lost his step and slipped

 

Trying hard to catch himself

His hands flew out to brace

And mid the laughter of the crowd

He fell flat on his face

 

So down he fell and with him hope

He couldn’t win it now –

Embarrassed, sad, he only wished

To disappear somehow

 

But as he fell his dad stood up

And showed his anxious face

Which to the boy so clearly said:

“Get up and win the race”

 

He quickly rose, no damage done

– Behind a bit that’s all –

And ran with all his mind and might

To make up for his fall

 

So anxious to restore himself

– To catch up and to win –

His mind went faster than his legs:

He slipped and fell again!

 

He wished that he had quit before

With only one disgrace

“I’m hopeless as a runner now;

I shouldn’t try to race.”

 

But in the laughing crowd he searched

And found his father’s face;

That steady look which said again

“Get up and win the race!”

 

So up he jumped to try again

– Ten yards behind the last –

“If I’m going to win those yards,” he thought

“I’ve got to move real fast.”

 

Exerting everything he had

He regained eight or ten,

But trying hard to catch the lead

He slipped and fell again!

 

Defeat! He lied there silently

– A tear dropped from his eye –

“There’s no sense running anymore;

Three strikes: I’m out! Why try!”

 

The will to rise had disappeared

All hope had fled away

So far behind, so error prone;

A loser all the way

 

“I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought

“I’ll live with my disgrace.”

But then he thought about his dad

Who soon he’d have to face

 

“Get up” an echo sounded low.

“Get up and take your place;

You were not meant for failure here.

Get up and win the race.”

 

“With borrowed will get up,” it said

“You haven’t lost at all

For winning is no more than this:

To rise each time you fall”

 

So up he rose to run once more

And with a new commit

He resolved that win or lose

At least he wouldn’t quit

 

So far behind the others now

– the most he’d ever been –

Still he gave it all he had

And ran as though to win

 

Three times he’d fallen, stumbling;

Three times he rose again,

Too far behind to hope to win

He still ran to the end

 

They cheered the winning runner

As he crossed the line first place

Head high, and proud, and happy;

No falling, no disgrace

 

But when the fallen youngster

Crossed the line last place,

The crowd gave him the greatest cheer,

For finishing the race

 

And even though he came in last

With head bowed low, unproud

You would have thought he’d won the race

To listen to the crowd

 

And to his dad he sadly said,

“I didn’t do too well.”

“To me, you won,” his father said

“You rose each time you fell.”

 

 

                    III

 

 

And now when things seem dark and hard

And difficult to face

The memory of that little boy

Helps me in my race

 

For all of life is like that race

With ups and downs and all

And all you have to do to win

Is rise each time you fall

 

“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!”

They all shout in my face

But another voice within me says;

GET UP AND WIN THE RACE

 

 

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