I am probably baring my country bumpkin roots here, but I grew up listening to songs like Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler. My dad would often play similar old country songs in our Oldsmobile as we shuttled from one activity or destination to the next. I grew to learn the songs by heart and, even to this day, some have stuck with me more than others.
“The Gambler” in particular has left a lasting impression on me. Not that I have ever been overly intrigued by gambling, poker games, or the like, but the words of simplicity, yet complex wisdom, which came to Kenny from the gambler that night on the train have remained with me. I still sing them occasionally in the shower.
While I don’t know a whole lot about gambling, I do believe that the Gambler was speaking of a lot more than just a card game. I believe that his words were more about life in general rather than any game of poker which he may have played:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away.
Know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sitting at the table,
There’ll be time enough for counting,
When the dealing’s done.”
Even at a young age I realized that the Gambler had seen some hard times in his life. He may have been knocked around and his life most likely had not been easy. But, I remember always thinking that he must also have had a lot of courage. The Gambler would have had to be brave and pretty smart. The intelligence of knowing when to “hold ’em” and when to “fold ’em” must only come from the experience of living both experiences and having suffered the consequences of each. And it takes courage to share the knowledge from those experiences with others as well.
Courage is not an easy thing to come by even today. It takes courage to do many things in our lives, and for some of us, the things that require courage for us personally are different than those which require courage for others. Courage may be needed for the big things, but also for the little things in life and, guaranteed, those things are different for each of us.
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em.”
It takes courage to speak your mind and to stand up for what you believe in.
It takes courage to hold onto your goals and to advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.
It takes courage to try again when you fail and to get back up when you fall down.
It takes courage to admit your weaknesses as well as your strengths.
“You’ve got to know when to fold ’em.”
It takes courage to say enough is enough, to put an end to destructive behavior, and to start over.
It takes courage to say no and to also say goodbye.
It takes courage to remove ourselves from those things which are not good for us whether they be habits, situations, or people.
It takes courage to initiate change in your own life as well as to be the change that you want to see in the world.
It’s also important to “know when to walk away” from the things that are hurtful to us and to “know when to run” from them as well (as in, don’t give them a second thought). It takes courage to realize that there are things or people which we are better off not having in any capacity in our lives.
Courage is also about being grateful for what we have and showing the appreciation for those elements and people who we are blessed with. While the Gambler advises “never count your money when you’re sitting at the table”, we should be grateful for all that we have been blessed with “when the dealing’s done”. Blessings come in various forms, shapes, and sizes and are all around us. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes to them.
Courage isn’t about proving you are the best and the bravest. Courage is making the choices which are the bravest and best for each one of us individually in our own situations and in our own time.
(photo courtesy of wikihow.com)