Whatever we do, we evidently need a lot of encouragement.
It won’t take long before some media outlet will offer a presentation designed to, well, inspire you to dream, to strive, to keep on keeping on, however one wants to describe the feeling that discourages a person from abandoning hope and by extension wrecking the economy, rending the nation’s social fabric and becoming one of the alleged 47 percent that doesn’t pay taxes.
That’s how the Olympics are offered the viewer. It’s why we cheer the progress of the wounded veteran, the climb of the down-and-outer, the return of someone like football player Michael Vick, a guy who values the concept of second chances. Someone else’s struggle is, in part, a reason to continue our own.
General Motors offered, not long ago, “A Buick to believe in.” A guy ran for president, a few years ago, offering little more than “hope.” Cable television is awash in retrograde programming whose underlying message is the benefit of fresh starts. Our passion for mobility extends beyond cellphones; the divorce, the bankruptcy, the liposuction, the move to another town, the attitude adjustment, the sign-up for college, are as quick and easy as we want to make them. “Fresh start” is so ingrained in our culture there are products, ministries and foundations by that name.
Well, what do we do with all this inspiration, all this hope, all these examples of someone else’s overcoming of obstacles? Some of it we apply to personal situations; in other cases we are impressed, then depressed when it’s not happening to us.
You likely don’t want or need hard-won advice from an old man, but here it comes anyway: In general, if you can genuinely observe an advantage in an opportunity, go for it. Back when I worked in a local factory it occurred to me I could not attend, part time, law school: too hard, too complicated, too expensive, too many time constraints but mostly too hard. (I broached the idea among work colleagues: Attend law school and spend a career suing our current employer. I had clients before I even filled out the application for school.)