No instant gratification in greatness…

There are some events or competitions that take very little time in themselves. The 100 meter dash comes to mind or a quarter-lime drag race. Both can be over in under 10 seconds, but both events are really just the culmination of lots of hard work – sometimes years’ worth of preparation.

We have become a society more conditioned to, and used to, instant gratification. Patience and perseverance have been largely relegated to the dust bin of history in this era of smart phones and short attention spans. The mantra, “we want it all and we want it now” rules the day for many.

Yet, there are those who still understand that great things take time and sustained effort. Every now and then the TV coverage of one of those seemingly short-term successes will go behind the scenes to report on the amount of training time and effort that went into that 10 second blast of success. Only then do we appreciate the patience and perseverance of the winning athlete that went into that moment.

Many people pursue great things/goals without giving much conscientious thought to them. Being a good person, spoouce or parent pops to mind. Goals like those are just lurking there in the back of your mind. One might pause every now and then to think about what the “right thing” to do is in any particular situation, and the commitment to being a good person or a better husband or parent kicks in and guides your decisions.

Unlike the winner at the end of the 100-meter dash, we do not get to wrap ourselves in a flag and take a victory lap for having been a good person or parent. We may sit and reflect upon the success of the parenting work that we put in as we listen to our son or daughter take their wedding vows. I suspect that there isn’t a dad or mom who didn’t tear up while doing the wedding dance with their child. That was their victory lap and they realized it.

As I enter the Autumn years of my life, I look back and realize so many of the ambitions and goals that I pursued, including most of those that I accomplished, turned out to be relatively meaningless. The goals that really mattered – to be that better person and a good husband and parent – are still what drives me day-to-day. Those are great things worth pursuing with patience and perseverance. My hope is that my last thought on earth will be – I won those races.

Then, I’ll take my victory lap in heaven.


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