“If”

“If” by Rudyard Kipling
 
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
 
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear the hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
 
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;
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!”
 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

When my brother introduced me to this poem several years ago, it immediately became a favorite. I loved the rhythm and rhyme but more so the message. It is intended to set a standard for adulthood — and it deserves to be one — but it also could be a standard for what it is to be a writer.

“If you can wait and not be tired by waiting”

I feel like that describes my life in so many ways, but especially in writing. Crafting a story takes time. Crafting novels takes even more. And finally becoming published? Who knows. But perseverance will pay off eventually in some way.

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master”

Dreaming is easy. Striving to make those dreams a reality is hard. So is maintaining a balance between being led by our dreams and becoming obsessed with them.

“If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same”

We all face failures. Countless hordes of failures sometimes, it seems. But if we learn from the mistakes and keep pressing on, we’re bound to find success. After all, how many ways did Thomas Edison find how to not make a lightbulb?

“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!'”

Perhaps it’s too melodramatic in terms of writing, but it certainly feels this way sometimes.

Just like adulthood, writing is filled with risk. Whether we shy away from it or face it head on is up to us.

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3 responses to ““If”

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