This article was almost not written. As a matter of fact, I almost decided to give up writing, altogether, today. I'll explain, in just a bit.
Years ago, when I was attending Ohio State University, I enrolled in a Sociology class. It was a very interesting class, which I enjoyed very much. I remember a class exercise that the professor asked us all to participate in. It turned out to be a lesson, I have never forgotten.
The topic for discussion, this day, in class, was that, Everyone gets a shot in life. No matter who you are, no matter where you were born, no matter how rich or poor you may be, no matter what kind of family you may have come from, no matter what your situation might be, in life, you DO get a shot in life. Everyone gets a shot.
The class was divided about whether or not they believed in what the professor had said. Many did not believe it was true. So he offered us an example, to make his point.
The teacher asked each student to stand up next to their desk. He then asked us to take a sheet of notebook paper and make a paper ball out of it. He then placed a trash basket in one corner of the room.
After doing this, he emphasized, again, "Everyone gets a shot, at life. I didn't say that everyone gets an equal shot. But, everyone gets a shot." Some are born in life with a silver spoon in their mouth. Some are born, with remarkable intelligence, whereas some are born with great, physical, beauty. Some are born with amazing athletic talent. Some are born into families with power. Many are born into various positions of great advantage, in life. Unfortunately, many others are born, greatly disadvantaged, right from the start, being no fault of their own. Still the fact remains, whether we are born into a life of privilege or poverty, we all get a chance, at life. We all get to take a shot.
"Let the experiment begin," said the professor. He asked the student standing right next to the trash basket to take his shot. The student laughed because he was standing right next to the basket. All he had to do was lift his arm and drop the ball right into the can. No problem. It required no skill, or hardly any effort, on his part, at all.
The teacher then instructed the next student, closest to the basket, to take her shot. She also made the basket very easily, with hardly any skill, or effort, required.
As we continued to progress, around the room, the shots became harder and harder for the students to make, from where they were standing. Some were successful. Some were not.
There camea point, in the exercise, that simply shooting the ball, into the basket, was no longer possible. The basket was too far away from the student. Now, the ball had to be thrown, with great force, tohave any chance of coming anywhere near the basket.
Finally, we came to the student who was standing, next to, the very last seat in the classroom. We all knew that he had almost,no chance, of making his basket, at all. He took a small running step and threw the ball as hard as he could towards the waste can. His effort fell far short of making the goal. The whole class laughed, because he wasn't even close. But, hey! At least he tried. He has his shot, and he gave it his best.
At last, we came to a small, female, classmate who sat in the very last seat, furthest way away from the basket. It was her turn to take her shot. The professor told her to go for it. But something happened that the teacher didn't expect. He told us that in his 20 years of teaching this class, it had never happened like this before. The girl refused to take her shot. He pleaded with her. "Please, take your shot! Who knows? You might get lucky and make it, " he said. The girls still refused. She knew she couldn't do it. She didn't want to be laughed at by the whole class, like the young man, before her.
The teacher was stunned. He didn't know what to think about what he had just witnessed. He had never had a student refuse to take their shot before. "Interesting," he said. "Very interesting," he said again.
I've never forgotten the exercise we practiced, in class, that day. I've thought about it, often, since then. I, like the professor, wasn't quite sure, at the time, what we had learned, exactly. It wasn't until recently, that I finally figured out what it was.
The teacher was right in what he was trying to teach us, but his example was not appropriate, for proper instruction. It is true. We all do get our shot, at life, but my shot isn't yours and yours isn't mine.
In class, we were all trying to take the same shot, from completely different advantage points. Although, some were successful, most were not, because they were trying to take a shot that was better, meant, for someone else to take. This is what I learned. We are all positioned to take different shots. We cannot succeed at taking someone else's shot. We must find, and take, our own.
The young lady, sitting in the back of the class, refused to take a shot she knew she couldn't make. She was wise in doing that. She realized her limitations. Why waste her time trying to accomplish something impossible, to her? Better yet, why not find a shot that is possible for her to make?
After 20 years of thinking about this experiment, I would now offer the young lady, this advice. Don't feel bad about not taking that shot. It wasn't your shot, to make. Look to your left. Look to your right. Look up! There are shots all around you that are waiting for YOU to make them! They are the shots that are positioned just right, for you to succeed! They are not far away, at all. They are right within your reach. There are shots, of great importance, waiting to made, all around you. All you have to do is recognize them, be willing to make the effort to make them happen. This is the chance we have in life.
I have been having a real hard time, in my life, lately. Sometimes, it seems like everything in the world is against me, making it. If it's not one thing, it's another. I get so tired, and frustrated, and overwhelmed with it all, sometimes. At times, I just feel like giving up.
I just realized something, today, as I was preparing myself to write this article. All my life I have been trying to take shots that were out of my reach. That's why I have not been successful. That's why I am so full of frustration and fatigue. I am hurling my shots, as hard as I can, towards goals that are too far away for me to accomplish. I keep falling short, and it leaves me feeling angry, and frustrated, and exhausted. It embarrasses me before my peers, because I just can't seem to succeed, no matter how hard I try. It leaves me feeling like a loser.
I'm not a loser! And neither are you. If you haven't succeeded in life, to the degree that you feel you should have, by now, perhaps it's because you have been doing like me. You've been taking the wrong shots. You've been taking shots that are not intended for you to make, or maybe, at least, not yet. It is crucial that we find the shots in life that we CAN make, right now. And it is crucial that we make the effort to take them. Then other shots, that we can make, will come in to view. And as we continue to grow, maybe one day, we will be in better position to make the shot we've always dreamed of making. It's a growing thing. We must be patient. We must, walk, before we can run.
I am sitting in a hospital emergency room, right now, writing this article. I have been feeling much pressure about meeting my deadline for article submissions this month, because I have been very sick for the past couple of weeks. I wasn't able to work, at all, and I most certainly was in no condition to write. Suddenly, I found the deadline was upon me, and I had no articles to submit to my publisher. I was about to say, "The heck with it. I'm too sick to do this right now. Maybe someday I'll try again. Now, is just not a good time for me to be try and bea writer. I've got to many problems to worry with it right now. I hate to let everybody down, but I can't help it. "But then, something came over me. I knew that would be a mistake. I hardly have anything in my life right now that I feel real "happy" or good, about, but the one thing! I do have going that I am proud of, and that I do enjoy, is writing these articles. Maybe through all my years of hardship, something good can come out of it all. Maybe I can help somebody through my words of experience. I hope so. That's what makes it all worthwhile.
As sick as I am, sitting here waiting to see the doctor, I knew I had to start writing. I knew this was important for me to do. I can't allow myself to quit. For right now, THIS is my shot! And I'm going to take it. This is my opportunity to do something that is important, something that may help someone else, in some way. That's the best I can do, right now, and it is important that I do it.
So, look around you. What opportunities do you have to make a positive difference in the world, or in someone else's life? Success comes through giving. Give and you shall receive. Only you know what shot is lined up just for you, right now. We've all got one looking right at us. It was put there for us to succeed, and to bless others by doing so.
No matter how hard things may be for you, right now, it is crucial for you to know that your life is never hopeless. You always have a chance to make a positive change. Start right where you're at, no matter how miserable of a place that might be, and make a difference. Take your shot, and succeed!
M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.
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