Taking Risks in Your Boots

French Bay, Titirangi, Auckland

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

Excerpt from If  by Rudyard Kipling

These four lines of Poetry speak to me of the greatness of man.  He who takes a risk stands to gain enormously, but he who risks it all and loses, and has the courage to start again; gains the earth and everything in it. ………..And I don’t mean gambling your wealth away, losing and then mortgaging your family home and trying again ……..but making yourself vulnerable, physically, emotionally, financially, by taking a risk when there is no guarantee of success.

We take all sorts of risks every day. When we decide to say “I love you” to someone not knowing how they would respond, when we decide to pack up all our worldly possessions and move to a strange country to start a new life, when we leave a job we don’t like without securing a new job, in order to be true to ourselves, when we trust the recommendation of a good friend and invest all our savings in a get rich scheme to better our future, we are taking huge risks and often times find that things don’t pan out the way we wanted them to.  The lover may tell you he doesn’t love you back or worse yet, look at you blankly, the new beginning you were hoping for in greener pastures may turn out to be a sad ending, the dream job you were banking on may never eventuate and the advice of the friend you trusted may lead you into bankruptcy. For those around us that watched us take these risks it is easy to say “I saw that one coming”. But at least those of us that risked it all could say “we tried”.

What fascinates me is not the fact we take risks, but the element of courage that is required to start again once we have lost. Over the last 6 or 7 years I have personally faced almost every kind of loss known to mankind in some shape or form. As I went through these loses, friends would say to me, “you are a strong woman, you will get through this”. As I was hit with each loss, I thought surely this would be one that sends me under. Yet I kept on standing and I kept on taking risks. And gradually, I came to believe that my friends were correct. I am a strong woman and I could take whatever life threw at me. That realisation is what led me down this path of self discovery and gave me a true sense of self worth.

Kipling talks about this ability in the next four lines in that poem.

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

I have a name for this ability to pick yourself up and start again when you have hit rock bottom. I call it “boot strapping”. My friends in the IT world would recognise it as a computer term. But the original meaning of the word is to pull yourself into an upright position just by hanging onto your own bootstraps; because there is nothing else to support yourself against.  It is a metaphor for doing the impossible. To me it means reaching deep within yourself when life knocks you down once again and finding the strength to get up one more time, to keep going. To be entirely self reliant so that the knowledge that there is no one to wipe away your tears or sooth the grazes on your knees doesn’t matter.

I believe men or women, we all have this ability within us; we just don’t know it. When things are tough, we feel like there is no point in trying again or that we simply do not have the strength to try again.  But if you reach deep enough inside of you, you will recognise that you too have the means to “Bootstrap”. And you know what; you don’t even need to be wearing boots to be able to do it. I own three pairs of boots and none of them have straps. So if I could do it, then so can you……Have faith in yourselves my friends


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Madhawa says:

    A gem of a post … incidentally “If” by Rudyard Kipling has been a 2nd religion to me too, ever since I read it in my early teens. Its concepts of humility and equality were probably the areas I’ve been mostly been living by while you’ve ventured into more tougher and courage-demanding areas of risks and resilience.

  2. The funny thing is I don’t think I have ever discussed my liking for this poem before this. Not surprised you like it, but to find it inspires your life in that way is nothing short of amazing.

  3. Great blog post – left me with such a positive vibe. I’ve just looked up the whole poem and it’s so powerful. Thank you for sharing it, I’ve just ordered my copy from Amazon.

    1. Thank you. I think that Poem has a lesson in it for every situation we face in life. Glad it inspired you the same way it did for me so many years ago.

  4. arathimy says:

    Thank you for this writing! I will send it to a couple of others whom I know, to help them over difficult times.

    1. I am glad to hear it might be of help to someone else. Thanks for continuing to read my posts.

  5. Thulani says:

    A gem of a post indeed. Just saw it and it happened to be on a day I really needed to find my means to bootstrap. It really gave me courage and inspiration I needed to go through my bad period. Thank you for sharing !

    1. You are very welcome. You just need to believe you have the strength and the rest will fall into place. One little step at a time. Good luck.

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