Category Archives: Later, on things to do

Daring Greatly

One of the few things that I planned to do when I retired was to read Edmund Morris’ monumental three-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt.   I had been curious about the life of our twenty-sixth President for some time, and I bought the Morris set months before I retired.

Not long after my retirement date, I began reading the biography, and eventually I completed that part of my retirement plan.  One of the best known Roosevelt quotes came from a speech he delivered after his presidency.

Roosevelt, anticipating his retirement from office, planned a nine-month African safari.  Now, that’s a retirement plan!  Teddy did not mess around.  After completing his hike through Africa, Roosevelt toured Europe during the spring of 1910.  On April 23, he delivered a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris.  As Morris describes, Roosevelt’s audience of some 900 students and 2,000 ticket-holders gave the loudest applause “when he attacked skeptics ‘of lettered leisure’ who, cloistered in academe, ‘sneered’ at anyone trying to make the real world better.”  Although Roosevelt himself was surprised by the success of the speech, it almost immediately gained fame for the following lines:

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 them 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 short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in 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 fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

When I read these words in the biography, I realized that I had read them before.  I recalled that a colleague had framed this quotation and had hung it on the wall of his office.  My colleague, himself, was one who “dared greatly.” He devoted his professional career as a lawyer to many worthy causes, even when others considered his efforts to be foolhardy.  The words on his wall were both a tribute to Theodore Roosevelt and an apt epitaph for the man I knew.

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the greatest presidents our country has ever had.  It is not a mistake that his image is carved on Mount Rushmore alongside Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.  He was in many ways a remarkable man, and could justly be considered the first president of the modern era.  Reading about his life was an inspiring beginning to my own next chapter.

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Some other stuff for later,

  • 54
    Start HereI retired ten months ago, or so, at the beginning of 2013.  My retirement was by choice.  It was not a sudden thing. I had been thinking about it for two or three years.  My wife retired in 2009. I was not forced to retire due to loss of a…
  • 48
    When I mentioned my impending retirement, a retired friend advised me: “Make sure you have a plan.”  The reason why this is important, he confided, was so that I would not end up spending my days in retirement sitting around in my underwear watching television. It seemed like good advice. …
  • 47
    Atreverse GrandementeThe English version of this post is Daring Greatly. The Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Daring Greatly. Uno de las pocas cosas que…

Spanish As a Second Language

In 2009, I began to learn Spanish.  I had studied French in college but never really learned to speak the language.  Yet some of my French studies have stuck with me.  When I hear French, or read it, I can usually pick out some words and have some idea of what is being said.  Sometimes when I am trying to remember the Spanish word for something, the French word will come to mind.  I could have chosen French to study in 2009, but chose Spanish instead.  In part, I chose Spanish because the United States has a growing Latino population, and I am more likely to encounter a Spanish speaker than someone who speaks French or any other language—besides English, of course.

When I hear someone who is not a native English speaker speak English on television, I admire that ability.  I feel ashamed that I have been confined to speaking and understanding only one language—English.  After studying Spanish for more than four years, I am still unable to converse in Spanish.  So, I know how difficult it is to acquire a second language, and my admiration for the many people from all walks of life who have this ability is all the greater because I know what it takes.

The online resources for learning Spanish are very good.  I have bookmarked 50 – 60 websites that have information that is useful for anyone who wants to learn Spanish.  I am sure that there are hundreds more that I have yet to discover.  There are probably half a dozen that I have used frequently and continue to use on a regular basis.  In addition to the online resources, I have bought several Spanish books—including two dictionaries.  Our public library has an extensive collection of books, as well as instructional materials, in Spanish.  I have read several novels in Spanish.  Considering that I learned English and built my vocabulary by reading a lot, I try to read as much in Spanish as I can.  Last spring, I took a class in conversational Spanish through the local community college continuing education program.

Since beginning retirement, I have spent time each day improving my grasp of the Spanish language.  Retirement has allowed me more time to engage with the language and to engage with it more frequently.  I do not know if I will ever achieve “fluency” in Spanish, but my retirement has improved the odds.

It will be part of my learning process to translate my postings here.  I apologize to Spanish speakers in advance for the mistakes that I am bound to make.  While I realize that no one may be reading these posts, I hope that any Spanish speakers who read my translations will let me know of my errors and suggest corrections.  Your kindness will be greatly appreciated.

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    The English version of this post is Spanish As a Second Language. The Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Spanish As a Second Language.…
  • 46
    The English version of this post—In a Strange Land: Three—was posted here on November 2, 2016. This Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de In…
  • 40
    The English version of this post—An Expression of Spirituality—was posted here on March 13, 2017. This spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de An Expression…