The story is told of a young woman who had taken ballet lessons all through her childhood and who now felt ready to make a career of it. So, when a leading ballet company came to town, she went to meet the ballet master.
“I want to be a ballerina,” she said, “but I don’t know if I have the talent.”
The master asked her to dance, & after only a minute or so he shook his head. “No, no,” he said. “You don’t have what it takes.”
The young woman went home, heartbroken, tossed her ballet slippers in the closet & never wore them again. Many years later the ballet company visited her small town again. She attended the ballet, & on the way out, ran into the old master, now in his eighties.
She reminded him that they had met before, and they made small talk. She then said, “There’s just one thing that’s always bothered me. How could you tell me so quickly that I didn’t have what it takes?”
“Oh, I barely looked at you when you danced,” he said. “That’s what I tell everyone who comes to me.”
“But that’s unforgivable,” the woman exclaimed. “You ruined my life! Maybe I could have been a great prima ballerina!”
“No, I don’t think so,” said the old master. “If you had had what it takes, you wouldn’t have paid any attention to what I said.”
The ballet master’s words give us food for thought. — It is easy to succumb to the voices that tell us that we don’t have what it takes. But those who overcome, achieve and win are those who choose instead to listen to the deeper, affirming voice within them that tells them to press on, keep moving forward and not quit.
As the poet Edgar Guest so eloquently put it…
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “Maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing, as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, & he did it.
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”
But he took off his coat & he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin & a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or ‘quit it’,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, & he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done.
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat & go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” & you’ll do it.
Have a great week!
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!
Frank Capra’s 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life, is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. It was nominated for five Oscars, and has been recognised by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made.
The film begins with two lights blinking in the sky high above the earth. These two lights, we learn, are two angels talking to each other. The smaller light is Clarence Odbody, a novice angel, who is being given an assignment by the bigger light, his angelic supervisor.
Clarence’s task is to go and help a man on earth called George Bailey who needs help urgently.
“Is he sick?” asks Clarence.
“Worse,” replies Clarence’s supervisor. “He is discouraged.”
George Bailey, it turns out, is a good man who has led a kind, helpful and sacrificial life, but in the process has missed out on gaining wealth and fame. Tonight he is in the depths of despair, for he has been brought to the verge of ruin by an unscrupulous businessman. Clarence goes down to earth, manages to stop George from harming himself, but try as he might, is unable to cheer him up.
Finally, George Bailey says, ‘I wish I had never been born!”
And suddenly Clarence knows how to help George.
He shows George an alternative reality – the world as it would have been had he (George) never been born! As George walks through this version of the world, no one in his town recognises him. All the people he had helped throughout his life are leading sad and difficult lives because there was no George to help them in their time of trouble. Some people whose lives he had actually saved aren’t even around.
George starts to see clearly that his life hasn’t been a failure after all, that he has done much good and helped many people. Finally convinced that Clarence is his guardian angel, George begs for his life back. The original reality is restored, and a grateful George rushes home.
It is a powerful movie with a powerful message. — There is much to be grateful for in each of our lives. As George sees his life from a different perspective, he realises that each of his sacrifices has, as in fact, counted for a lot. Despite all his struggles, his life is truly priceless because he is rich in the things that actually matter — love, respect, goodwill, and friendship.
Listen to what Hollywood actress Jodie Foster has to say about the movie…
And do watch the film when you get a chance. You won’t regret it.
Have a great week!
The year was 1858. A young Englishman named Henry accompanied his father on a hunting trip that ended in tragedy. The father accidentally fired his shotgun, blinding his son in both eyes. Henry was only 25 at the time.
Before the accident, Henry had been a bright, ambitious young man with a promising future. No one would have blamed him if the accident had made him bitter and full of despair. And that was how it did seem at first. But there was one thing that saved him: he deeply loved his father and knew that his father was nearly out of his mind with grief at what he had done.
The only way he could save his father’s sanity was to choose hope over terrible despair. And that is what he did. He pretended to be cheerful when he was not. He pretended to take an interest in life that he did not feel. He pretended to have hope that he could be a useful citizen, though he himself felt no such hope.
Then an odd thing happened. The pretence turned to reality. It was as if, by an act of will, he had exorcised an evil spirit, driving it out of himself. The result: Henry Fawcett went on to become a Professor of Politcal Economy in Cambridge. He later got elected to Parliament, and amongst other things, fought for women’s right to vote. At Prime Minister Gladstone’s request, he became Postmaster General, where he brought about great improvements in the English postal and telegraph systems, which were then replicated around the world.
It is the toughest thing in the world to face hopelessness, but, as someone once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Sometimes all we can do is put one foot in front of another, but that is enough.
Despair can paralyse, but love, and the knowledge that there is always someone who needs us, can give us the strength to keep going. And if we refuse to quit, we will realize sooner rather than later that we still have agency and things are not as hopeless as they seem.
Have a happy and hopeful week!