This I Believe

Elise - Schertz, Texas
Entered on February 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Reaching for Heaven

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed it’s grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” ~Robert Browning

I remember the day my mom first showed me this quote, it was one of those light bulb moments. She read it to me right before I tried out for drum major last year and it seemed to envelope me. Never trying out for any authority position made me very nervous. I hadn’t yet met all of the official and unofficial requirements. I wasn’t an appointed leader. I wasn’t in First Band. I wasn’t born and raised in Schertz, Texas. I wasn’t a cheerleader, uber volunteer or the daughter of a Texas land baron. But that’s where this quote helped me.

I started to realize that if I got too nervous about it and I decided not to tryout I would sorely regret it. I would have just not reached far enough. Then I started to think about if everyone had just done what they needed to without getting hurt, where would this world be? If everyone always stayed in their comfort zone we would never have come to America much less have Presidents of America. I realized that this is part of what life is about; reaching for things even if they seem impossible, like the quote says, “Or what’s a heaven for?”

I am a very shy passive person. I don’t like to tell people what to do or how I feel because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings. I’m a very sensitive person and I get my feelings hurt very easily, but this attribute was an obstacle for a future drum major. I decided to fight my fear and pursue something I wanted more than anything. That’s the thing, I wanted it more than anything and that’s where I had to start.

The tryouts got closer and closer as I started to use the quote as a mantra, over and over again. The mantra had a rhythm like a steam engine. I could feel the power in each repetition like the “chuff” of the engine racing down the tracks. I walked into the tryout room a nervous wreck but I was ready. I went through all of the steps of the tryout and after each step was completed I took a deep breath and said the quote again. As I jumped over each hurdle I felt lighter and lighter, a crushing weight of doubt lifted from me with each step. The weight returned ten fold when the band directors said the names of the new drum majors– I was not one of them. I held onto my tears until after I left the building.

I couldn’t think, my mind was frozen, the results staggered, the failure total. My mantra was meaningless then, but as time passed it became more focused and truer. I’m proud of myself for “sticking my neck out”, as my mom says. I was one of those people who reached for heaven, even though my grasp couldn’t hold onto it, I tried and that’s what counts, the obstacles that you face only make you stronger. Now I am ready to tryout again next year, my hand is already outstretched and I know this time I will have enough knowledge to wrap my fingers around what I want.