In describing how tough things have become in life, someone recently used the analogy of swimming upstream – that it’s a constant struggle to survive. The thought occurred to me, “yes, but it beats the alternative.” Who wants to go with the current and be headed away from their ultimate destination? It’s only gratifying to go downstream AFTER you get to the headwaters. Living in salmon country – where the runs are in the media on a regular basis – provides a reminder of just what it takes to get to where you are going. In the current of life, if you’re not going upstream, have you given up, or are you dead?
What, you thought life would be easy? You thought there would be no rapids to fight against, no waterfalls to leap, no bears lying in wait to get their dinner? Or, in another vernacular, no curveballs or changeups? Heck, not a lot of people can even hit fastballs, let alone a sinker. The goal we all are probably looking for is there in front of us, but may be unobtainable in the immediate time frame we would like it to be. When Cinderella married the Prince, was it really “and they lived happily ever after?” Anyone who’s been married knows the work really intensifies after the nuptials; it’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Winning their heart is easy compared to what happens next.
Maybe I’m just being pensive given some recent events I’ve witnessed, but the point is there’s a lot to be said for the experiences we all go through. No one goes out and throws a perfect game their first time. Baseball hitters are thought to be great if they fail seven out of ten times: if they get on the other three times, then they’re batting .300. Ask a .250 hitter if he’d like to bat .300. How much time did the great hitter spend in the batting cage? Most people start in the little leagues, go into college or the minors before getting the chance to go to “The Show.”
Jerry Anderson at Apogee taught me something 20 years ago now that I have yet to forget: You get paid for the problems you can solve. The bigger the problems you can solve, the bigger the paycheck. And having the experience to do that only comes with experience and time. There’s some irony in that.
Heat will make glass and steel workable, malleable and soft, because it weakens them. But under very controlled conditions, heat can (and often does) make the materials stronger. The fish (or person) that survives their particular ordeal will ultimately be better off if they temper their response to it.