Never Say Never

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One day, a little boy came home from his first day of school. He was very excited. He couldn’t stop talking about his day. “Teacher says I can do anything I want!” he exclaimed.

His grandfather, listening quietly, became interested, leaned forward and asked “What do you want to do?”

The talkative boy suddenly became quiet and his eyes lit up as he looked outside the kitchen window. Beyond the horizon stood a tall mountain that soared into the clouds. “You see that?” said the boy pointing at the mountain, “I want to climb to the top of that mountain.”

His grandfather leaned back in his chair and laughed knowledgably. “Ha!” he chuckled, “it’s impossible to climb that mountain, it’s too high up!”

A few years later the same boy was celebrating his fifth-grade graduation. All his family had come to his house to commemorate the event. The boy was very excited. “The principal said we could do anything we want to in our life!” he exclaimed.

His father smiled and asked, “What do you want to do?”

The boy’s eyes bugged out and he looked out the kitchen window and pointed, “I want to climb to the top of that mountain.”

The boy’s father laughed and said, “It’s impossible to climb to the top of that mountain, the air’s too thin!”

Still, a few years later the same boy had just graduated from high school. At his graduation party, held in his backyard, he was very excited and looked forward to beginning his life. “The graduation speaker said we could accomplish anything!” he exclaimed.

His mother, pleasantly proud of her son, asked, “What do you want to do?”

The boys’ eyes grew wide and he turned towards the west and pointed, “I want to climb to the top of that mountain!” he exclaimed.

His mother’s smile turned to a frown, “That’s impossible, I hear it has a sheer rock face!”

Yet another four years later, the boy – now a young man and just graduated from college – rejoiced aloud at the family party in his honor. “My professor said I could do anything I wanted,” he exclaimed.

His skeptical grandmother asked, “What do you want to do?”

The graduate, pointing to the horizon, answered, “I want to climb to the top of that mountain!”

“Ha!” the grandmother laughed scornfully, “That’s impossible! You don’t have a job yet, do you?”

And so the years passed. The boy who had become a young man did get a job. Then he found a wife and had his own family. He never did climb to the top of the mountain…

One day, his wife called him at work very worried. “Junior’s been gone for hours! I don’t know where he is!” The man rushed home and arrived just as Junior came through the door.

“Where have you been?” scolded the father.

Junior pointed out the window and said, “nowhere, really. I just wanted to climb to the top of that mountain.”

“What?!” exclaimed the angry dad, “That’s impossible!”

“Really?” asked the confused boy. “Well you should have told me that before I did it?”

“You what?” seethed the older man, “Junior,” his anger reached a crescendo, “so help me the next time you do something a fool-hardy as that…”

The old man stopped suddenly upon hearing his own words, released his anger and calmly added, “…make sure to take me with you.”

The only way to accomplish the impossible is to not know it can’t be done.

No mountain is too high, no road is too rough, and no disease is incurable.

Deeds, Not Words

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you think that title might sound heretical coming from a wordsmith, just wait ‘til you read the rest of this column.

Say what you will about former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone (I never thought he was cut out for the job), but he did leave one indelible mark in my brain: “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This was one of the bromides that he posted on the walls of the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse for all his players (and Bills fans) to stare at. In a nutshell, it’s what Yoda told Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

We’re all told to try our best. That’s fine. But we need to accept that it’s not good enough. When you try something, the result is you either succeed or fail. That’s all there is to it. There is Continue Reading “Deeds, Not Words”