Mile Post 42.76
In today’s edition of the Globe & Mail’s Report on Business, I saw a name and a face that I recognized from the past. He was someone I once knew from my elementary school days and someone who once lived at the top of the hill on Versailles Street in Pierrefonds. Anyway, that person went on to great success in the business world. The notice in the newspaper was announcing his appointment to a senior position in a well-known large Canadian conglomerate.
Although I did not know him well, we were in cub-scouts together. I do remember him as an intensely competitive person with an abnormal desire to win. One late spring evening in the mid 1960’s, our cub pack traveled from Herbert Purcell School to the Riviere des Prairies through the woods. What struck me as odd was that most of my peers were not very comfortable in the woods and meadows whereas I felt at home. Nonetheless, at the end of our session we had to return to Herbert Purcell School and our cub-pack leaders made our return trip into a race. I took an early lead by leaving the trails and cutting through gaps I knew about in the brush and thistles.
One person was following me and refused to relent in his pursuit but I had managed to lose him by making my way through a barrier of hawthorn bushes. I was not the fastest runner, but I had gained enough of a lead to win the race even as the pounding of his footsteps behind were catching up again. He refused to accept that he had lost the race to me and he kept trying to have the goal line changed to his advantage.
I cannot say that I feel any sense of jealousy for his success because I still won that meaningless race many years ago. Today though, when I look at my life in comparison, I do feel an almost overwhelming sense of inadequacy and maybe even a sense of failure. My life has been a waste so far as accomplishment in the secular world, but that was deliberate by my own choices. Far worse though, my life has been a failure so far as God’s work is concerned because I have not done anything useful, meaningful or beneficial for my neighbour.
Only now, this late into my life, am I beginning to realize the consequences of some of the decisions made in my earlier years. Decisions made in those early years of life are not trivial or inconsequential. The lifetime consequences are crucial and we cannot go back and correct the mistakes of poor decisions. Oh yes, we can certainly try, but to do so is futile and too late.
I can go the grave satisfied, knowing that I shall never be successful in the secular definitions of the word success, and this I can accept. However, I shall go to the grave with an overwhelming sense of failure because I was too often a coward to stand up for my beliefs when it was time to stand and I was too timid to try harder to strive for some of my goals and deepest aspirations when confronted by daunting challenges.