“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood who strives valiantly who errs and comes short again and again who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
I have always loved that quote. Along with “Who Dares, Wins” (which, not coincidentally, is tattooed on my back) it probably encapsulates my philosophy on life better than anything else I”ve ever heard or read.
I have always endeavored to be the man in the arena. I think it stems from the fact that so much crap happened to me as a child that I had no control over. I”m sure I somehow came to the determination that I would live my life on my own terms, dependent upon nothing and beholden to no one.
I never really wanted to be a public figure it just sort of happened. I had always been an “action, not words” type, but constant bombardment by a barrage of sanctimonious, uber-liberal drivel prompted me to action and, as I soon learned after arriving at the University, I was fighting in a new battlefield and I needed to adopt new tactics. So, instead of whining amongst my peers, I decided to go out a give myself a voice. I decided to write for the Daily itself, the very bastion of political correctness and monument to sheltered idealism.
What followed was a three-plus year odyssey full of love, hate and hundreds of e-mails. We have been through a lot together, you and I. You have seen me funny, happy, serious, angry and everything in between. You have seen me at the heights of irony and the depths of self-loathing and I feel like many of you know me as well as you could know anyone they”ve never met. Likewise, I have tried to get to know you as well a fact that might explain why I have answered every single e-mail (save two) that I have received since I started writing for The MichiganDaily.
But it all ends here. As of tomorrow, my employment at the Daily ends although you couldn”t technically call it “employment” as (I”m proud to say) I have never taken a single check. So as I fade back into obscurity, I”d like to leave you with a few thoughts.
First and foremost, I don”t know what will become of me. The wisest man I have ever known once told me, “There is only one rule for being a man: Whatever comes, face it on your feet.” To that end, I have thrown the life/career road map in the trash and am taking life as it comes to me. That”s okay if I die tomorrow I will die a happy man. I have seen and done things that most 40-year-olds have not and have already lived what could be considered a “full” life in my short time on earth. That”s as it should be. I have never had an overwhelming desire to be rich all I wanted was a wife, kids and a house on the beach with a fireplace and a dog. That”s it. Not too grandiose, but it would suit me just fine.
No, my big desire has always been to experience. To go out and see what things really look and smell and feel like in the first person. Granted, this way of thinking has gotten me into trouble a time or two. I suppose I could have avoided the stumbles, the cuts and the bruises (not to mention the bar brawls, arrests and broken bones) if I had chosen the path of least resistance, but that is a course of action I could never bear. My one true fear in life is to live until I”m 100 and then, one day far from now, be sitting on my rocking chair lamenting all the things I never did, never saw and never will. The thought is truly terrifying.
So this is it. You may see me around Ann Arbor. And no, the picture looks nothing like me. Just look for the guy sitting quietly in the corner with the furrowed brow and hard green eyes that”s me. You may see me at Charley”s on Thursday nights or at Champions Gym or perhaps at Zydeco Louisiana Kitchen (“cause if you”re not sweatin” you”re not eatin”). Perhaps some day you”ll see me SCUBA-diving the Great Barrier Reef or standing along the banks of the old Wounded Knee Creek, listening to the ghosts of the Lakota in the wind. Perhaps you”ll find me riding a Harley through the Nevada desert or standing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, looking out over the great Sahara and the blue of the Mediterranean beyond.
But until that day comes, do me one favor. Find your own arena and place yourself in it. Say “Fuck You!” to all the doubters and naysayers and live your life like you think you should. That, my friends, is what it”s all about. Goodbye.
Give Branden Sanz feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.