A Measure of Accomplishment

When you work to achieve a goal, often times it is more important how you approached the situation, than whether you accomplished the goal or not.

The Old Man and the Sea, written by Ernest Hemingway, tells the story of Santiago, a hard-working, old man, who accomplishes a goal only to have it taken from his grasp. He caught one of the most marvelous marlin after a strenuous fight, but before he was able to make it home, the fish was eaten by sharks. A recent situation I was in is very similar to Santiago’s story, where a goal was not met because the events that occurred were out of our control. Sometimes when you do everything possible to mend a situation, the results still may not end up how you wanted them. The basketball team that I was a part of competed in the regional tournament in Colorado Springs.

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In order to advance to the state tournament, we had to win the next game. At the end of the first half, we were down twenty-two points with really no explanation why, except that we had not adjusted to the physical play that the referees were allowing. The second half we fought diligently to work our way back in to the game, holding the other team to seven points during the fourth quarter, but ultimately we lost the game, thirty-eight to fifty. The referees in my story are symbolic to the sharks within Santiago’s story, they prevented both of us from accomplishing our goals. Santiago fought to capture the marlin for three days, while we worked endless months to secure a trip to regionals, and we both fell one step short of securing our goals. We both persevered to reach our goals, but no matter how hard we tried, the end results were out of our control.

However, if we gave it our best, then maybe we did accomplish our goals. When the results of certain circumstances are out of your control, the only action you can take is to keep trying. Similar to Santiago, I learned that if you give your best and try to accomplish a startling feat then you have already completed your goal, much the same as my experience. In the end, it may not matter what you have accomplished in your life, but rather how you accomplished it.