"Never Give Up, Never Surrender!"
I'll never forget the first time I saw the movie Galaxy Quest with my son years ago. He was seven and I was single again. I have to admit that I felt just a little like the characters who portrayed the cast from the "series" Galaxy Quest in the movie. I had been whisked away into outer space it seemed, with nothing but a few years performance battling "aliens" of one sort or another. Finding myself divorced again, alone with a young son, no job, bills piling up and health issues manifesting themselves, I realized that our ship had become much more than a prop where we were acting out the daily scenarios of life. Suddenly it was our lifeboat in a dark sea of reality. Sole responsibility rested on my shoulders to find a way to navigate through this black hole we had been thrust in at warp speed. It was my job to stand up to those "aliens" that were threatening us. There was no one else to fight for my little boy but me! I had adopted the motto of "never give up" some years before, but finding myself facing an even more difficult challenge, it would take more than not giving up. It would take not giving in.
Ironically, it was that brown-eyed boy, my "mini me" that taught me what it meant to "never give up, never surrender." From the time he was born, he was fighting things seen and unseen. He beat the odds at birth when he was born three months premature. That thirteen and a quarter inch doll baby was a fighter! No matter what we faced from that time and through the years that followed, my sweet boy embraced everything with an optimistic, loving and unselfish attitude. For someone who was so tiny and behind the curve for the first several years of his life, he was the biggest "boy" I knew. At 24, he is a bigger man than anyone I've ever met! All 140 pounds of him. He is a rare breed in this generation of entitled spoiled "children."
Looking back at those years I am amazed! I can't lie. I wanted to give in so badly. I wanted to just find an easy way out but I couldn't! I had no choice. To borrow the words from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we weren't in Kansas anymore. Have you ever heard the phrase "point of no return?" Well, once you get so far in life, either with decisions you've made, circumstances beyond your control or situations that for the moment dictate a steady hand at the wheel, you are at a "point of no return." It's like an airplane flying over the ocean. The plane has just enough fuel to get to the other side. If it has only flown a third of the way, there is enough fuel for the pilot to turn around and go back where the plane originated. However, once the airplane reaches just beyond that halfway mark, the pilot knows he is committed. There isn't enough fuel to return to the starting point. He has no choice but to fly to his destination. The airplane is at a "point of no return."
Life is like that. For the most part, there are no "do overs." We can't relive our past or go back to where we started, we don't know for certain what is in our future, and often our present is more than enough to handle. The thing is, for us to handle our present and continue on our destination towards the future, we can't give up or surrender! Sometimes we want to. Lord knows I did on more than one occasion! Sometimes we feel like others have failed us or we have failed ourselves, but here's the thing. "Failure isn't falling down, it's refusing to get back up and try again." I've watched some of the Summer Olympics over the course of the last several days. The tenacity and drive of those athletes is nothing short of amazing. I can imagine how they must've felt the thousands of times they fell if they were running or doing gymnastics, or how many times they fell short if they were swimming or rowing. But there they were at the Olympics! None of them there were failures because they got back up and kept trying... again and again and again until they found themselves so successful they were representing their countries! These athletes all have learned a valuable lesson about life, about what matters and what doesn't and those lessons are what caused them to never give up or surrender.
I have a feeling that no one reading this today has lived a perfectly charmed life - where everything went as planned, where there were no setbacks, surprises or detours. I doubt that any of you have been perfectly healthy or completely successful at everything you've put your hand to. Success is more of a journey than a destination. It is an attitude, a mindset and a behavior. At the end of it all ironically, we all end up on equal ground when life is said and done.
There was once a conversation between the father of a very wealthy family and his young son...
"The father took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, ‘How was the trip?’
’It was great, Dad.’
‘Did you see how poor people live,’ the father asked.
‘Oh yeah,’ said the son.
‘So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip,’ asked the father.
The son answered:
‘I saw that we have one dog and they had four.’
‘We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.’
’We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.’
‘Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.’
‘We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.’
‘We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.’
‘We buy our food, but they grow theirs.’
‘We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.’
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added,‘Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.’”
There is a crucial key to life in this story. Never giving up and never surrendering has much more to do with what you do with what you have and how you feel about where you are, than what you actually have or where you are actually heading. It is about gratitude, acceptance, self-worth and true value. Stuff is just that - stuff. It does not define our true worth. Accomplishments are awesome and we all desire them, but they do not define who we are. If life has sent you on an unexpected "Galaxy Quest," due to health issues, loss of a job or relationship, financial issues or just a change of plans beyond your control, just remember what it takes to truly "never give up and never surrender!" You don't have to stay down if you fall down or are knocked down. You have much more to get up for than you realize!