Viewpoint: Difficult tasks, courage and tartar sauce“When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you’re going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce.” To me, this adage indicates that I must have a can-do attitude, an attitude of confidence in my abilities and the situation at hand.
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
I came across a saying in one of H. Jackson Brown’s little coffee table books, which states, “When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you’re going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce.” To me, this adage indicates that I must have a can-do attitude, an attitude of confidence in my abilities and the situation at hand.
This is often easier said than done. Assuming a confident, positive attitude, in the face of difficulties or a seemingly hostile or unsupportive environment, may seem to be impossible. All I may want to do is retreat. Forget about Moby Dick, get me out of the water!
This little saying, which is taped in front of me in my office at home, offers me encouragement when I face what appears to be an arduous, frightening task. It helps me remember to look toward my resources, rather than the fear that is certain to overtake the situation. The fear that we face may be real, not imagined, and fill us with dread at the thought of attempting this unlikely, seemingly foolish venture.
What I have read is that we must turn our uncertainties into fears, in order that these fears may be overcome with courage. Courage is not simply something that the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” seeks. Each one of us faces our own reservations and fears, and the way we face these doubts and worries, will contribute to the kind of life we live and the kind of human being we become.
With this said, I think back to last Saturday and the Fourth of July. I know this may sound crazy, but I take every opportunity I have to sing our national anthem. Whether at a baseball game, a hockey tournament, or fireworks in the park, I sing along as the national anthem is being played or sung.
I have to tell you, I cry every time. When the words state, “The rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, our flag was still there,” I am overcome with emotion. I want to know where our forefathers found the courage to stand firmly for the freedom they desired. I want to know where they found the willingness to give their lives for what they believed was right.
In our world today, do we, as families living in an illustrious suburb, take time to decide what we believe? If we do, are we willing to make choices that bring our actions into line with our beliefs?
These are not easy questions and there are no easy answers. It would be nice if there were because it would make things so much simpler. But just like the person who is going after Moby Dick, or like the Cowardly Lion, there are no guarantees. Life is not about guarantees, even though we would perhaps feel more comfortable if it was. Life is about commitment and persistence, particularly when it comes to matters of importance.
When there is something that is of great importance to us, we must each ask ourselves if we are willing to stand firmly for what we believe is right to see that it comes to fruition. We must each decide, as parents or as individuals, what is essential to us and then arrange our activities and commitments to reflect this importance.
Whether we are facing the difficult task of deciding to stay home with our children or to move to a different home, we will be required to reflect and act with courage. In either instance, we realize there may be a cost to us. We may want to ask ourselves what we believe is right. We may also want to ask what the cost will be if we do not follow our values and do what we believe is right.
Being people of conviction, courage, and commitment is not easy, particularly in our culture today. There are so many enticements to act otherwise and that encourage us to turn away from our principles. When we act with courage, however, we usually have a clear conscience. As my mother often said, “A clear conscience makes a soft pillow.”
Thinking and acting consistently with our values and what we believe is right may be difficult. When we meet a difficulty with courage, however, we will find that, just like the fishermen going after Moby Dick, we have to believe we can accomplish our objectives. A can-do attitude will help us achieve the goals and aspirations we set for ourselves and our families.
Kate Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.