Winning Starts With Knowing How To Pick Your Fights

You have a choice…! Well, maybe it’s not quite that cut & dried, but two callings beckon: Carpe Diem or Que Sera Sera. You either seize-the-day (especially when you’re young and invincible) or you shrug what-will-be-will-be (especially once you’ve stopped being young and invincible).

The choice here is something like that between the sunrise and the sunset. Each has its own appeal. The choice is rooted in the counter-point between what’s inevitable and what’s possible in your life.

From the moment you’re born, certain inevitability’s roll and clamp into sturdy place around the rest of your life on this planet. Time…dangers…disease…rivals. But also goals…ambition…friends….luck. The daily headlines — be they from ancient Rome to modern Washington DC — remind us of inevitability’s like the recent prostitution scandal in our Secret Service, the resilience of local insurgencies like the Taliban, the relentless pursuit of drugs by growers and users alike. Que sera sera….

And yet there are also the parallel possibilities. From the moment you’re born certain prospects wheel into place in the form of your genetics, your parents, your caste, your community, your schooling, your mentors, and don’t forget your luck. This is why we strive, both as individuals and as a society, to stretch, to reach, to try just a little harder. Carpe diem….

Elders, philosophers, and clergy often remind us of the sunset of inevitability’s out there. You will find them at the heads of family dinner tables, in college campuses and in pulpits. Their wisdom is their understanding of history’s inevitable track records. Then there are the young, the balladeers, political activists, and salespeople all inclined to remind us of the sunrise of possibilities each new day. Their wisdom is their unwillingness to bow before the inevitable.

Neither is right, neither is wrong, they are who they are. Molded by a unique mix of innocence & experience, success & failure, dreams & nightmares, restlessness & resignation. If both history’s greatest achievers and failures were to report back to us on their fighting efforts, what they could each say with conviction: “First, know how to pick your fights….”

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  • I probably apply this to local politics. About 7 years ago, I would write the state senators and representatives about pending bills and would get call backs from the sponsors. However, then it appeared that someone in the legislature was amending the bills to do exactly the opposite of what I suggested. Given recent gerrymandering, cons like the recall amendment, and other indications that the citizen doesn't count, I may post on comment boards, but I have given up on those clowns.

    I've had similar with personal relationships; in one case I contacted some of the writers under the "Advice" tab of Chicago Now about a friend's problems, but since she doesn't want to take any of my or their suggestions, well that's not my problem.

    These might be trivial, but, then again, I'm not volunteering to lead a National Guard unit to overthrow the Taliban or Iranians, not that any unit would take me. Don't have any problem with the SEALs taking out Osama, though.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack ~ The way I hear you, you're doing precisely what I propose: PICKING your fights and leaving the rest. Smart!

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