Monday, May 31, 2010

Daring Greatly

It's time I did a post on graduation, huh?

The law school's graduation ceremony was a few weeks ago, and it ended up being a bittersweet experience. When I was writing the grammar book during 1L, the law school was kind enough to let me drop a few classes. I'm taking summer classes to make up those hours, so graduation wasn't the grand finale of my law school career. However, it was symbolic and meaningful, and a wonderful chance to celebrate with the people I care about.

Our valedictorian focused his speech on different, mostly funny, memories of our time here. He mentioned (my very favorite Talladega native) Reid Carpenter's "trick balloonist" comment from Prof. Randall's Torts class. To those who weren't there, ask me to explain it in person. It was a highlight of 1L year.

Jan Crawford, who is the chief legal correspondent for CBS News, served as our commencement speaker. She went to UA for her undergraduate degree and went on to get her JD in Chicago, and because she's basically doing my dream job it was a sort of validation of my career choices up until this point. More than that though, she was thoughtful and inspiring. She thanked the families who were at the ceremony, because without them (or all the other supportive people in our lives) there's no way all of us would have made it through law school.

Her speech focused on this quote by Teddy Roosevelt (or -- you know -- his writers. Just giving the writers some credit!):
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
[Formatting and emphasis mine.]

To me, the most poignant part of the quotation is the "daring greatly" point. I understand that writing a blog is not "daring greatly" in the same sense that fighting wars, or running with the bulls, or risking your heart on a Great Love is. But I do sincerely feel that I've taken chances, learned lessons, and even lived in a better and greater way by sharing my writing on this platform.

If you read the comments, you know I have many critics. Anyone who's worked hard on something can empathize with the vulnerable feeling that rises up every time writers let someone else read a piece of work -- by sharing it with a friend or by turning it in to a boss or by simply clicking "publish." But along with the critics are many, many loving and supportive people who have encouraged and mentored me along this process. I'm not saying goodbye to blogging, and I'm certainly not abandoning writing. I don't know what the next phase of life will hold, but I can say a couple of things.

I hope I'm good at my job. I hope I can pay my bills! I hope I live by the water. I hope the locals will tolerate my dancing. I hope I get to keep writing. I hope I'll be lucky enough to continue to know wonderful people.

I hope it requires daring greatly.


Anonymous said...

You don't have the looks for TV.

bl1y said...

Are you studying for the July bar in Alabama? If so, do you need a study/drinking buddy? If so, are you willing to drive to Huntsville? If so, are you willing to provide a shoulder for me to cry on as I try to face the consequences of the $180,000 mistake I made?

Sharon said...

Thanks, Anonymous. And bl1y: I'm not sitting in July, but if you're willing to come down, I'll happily provide a shoulder to cry on. I might even get you drunk ;)

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Anonymous. Ironic, since I'm also named Anonymous.

Congratulations on your graduation.

Christie said...

I just wanted you to know that once I was the President of United Methodist Women for the Rome Carrollton District. Some of the best advice I ever received was from the former president. She told me that whatever your position you were in in life, there would be people that were plain mean and didn't mind sharing with you whatever they thought you had done wrong. She said to take the constructive criticisms and make the best adjustments you can and to let the rest just roll off your back like water on a duck!

Sharon said...

Good advice, Christie!

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