Poet: someone who writes.
Warrior: someone who fights.
Which one inspires us more, the poet or the warrior?
Today I hope to answer this question. I’m going to tell the stories of two men, one of the pen and the other of the sword, and we will decide which one of them has greater influence on people and the world.
The poet was a professor at Oxford University named Clive Hamilton. As a child he was fascinated by tales of gallantry, and when he grew up he became a renowned speaker, writing 58 books in his lifetime on everything from logic to philosophy to children’s stories.
Hamilton wasn’t interested in a wife or a family though. His childhood experiences had scarred him in a way that made him the most callused professor in Oxford. He intimidated both his students and peers with his unparalleled debating skills and held every relationship at arm’s length. The press praised him as an “intellectual giant” and a “master of fantasy.” Everyone knew his “poetry,” but nobody knew Clive Hamilton. He died at 64.
Some of you can identify with Hamilton’s story. Humans inherently fear the sting of real life. We watch movies and listen to upbeat music about freedom-fighters, lovers, and adventurers because we enjoy the feelings that come with those experiences. The catch is we want the FEELING, not the experience that comes with it. If you take away the pain, you’ve taken away the pleasure –there’s no middle ground. Perhaps there’s one thing sadder than a broken heart. And that’s an unbreakable heart.
So what do we do? We become talkers. A talker is someone who thinks he’s a poet, but really isn’t. Talkers are like hobbits, you love making up stories but have no use for adventures, thank you. And in the end, you haven’t gained anything. Well, you’ve gained weight, but not much else.
Henry Van Dyke writes, “You can never begin to live until you dare to die.”
So what’s it feel like to live? What does daring to die mean? That’s my next story.
Almost everyone is familiar with the words “Houston, we have a problem.” Those words were radioed by a command module pilot 200,000 miles from Earth, and there has been no manned mission to the Moon since.
55 hours after launch, the crew heard a bang. The captain reported to Houston that they were venting something out into space. The gas he saw outside his window was oxygen escaping from their tank, so fast it was nearly empty. When the crew finally managed to stop it, they had lost almost all their electricity, light, and water.
In order for the men to return to earth, the lunar module had to be re-programmed to last twice as long as it was designed to. Not only that, it was meant to support two men for two days and needed to take care of three men for four days. Also, the cold of space had damaged the heat shield and Mission Control feared it would not last through the burning of our atmosphere.
The harder Mission Control fought, the more they knew they weren’t going to make it.
Truth be told, that’s why we don’t want real experiences. We might end up like that guy. You may never begin to live until you dare to die, but you can’t exactly live if you never get past the dying part. But then again, what if you do?
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