Are we giving up too easily?

Published 8:19 pm Friday, May 15, 2020

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Back in the dark ages of Troy State, I had visions of traveling to foreign lands – Mexico and France or even Idaho.

I wanted to learn to speak a foreign language and be a world traveler.

I already could speak some conversational Spanish learned from the Mexican employees where I worked summers at Yellowstone National Park. But, France was calling me with its picturesque villages, glamorous cities, spectacular beaches. With its art, culture and history. So, I decided to study French at Troy State with Dr. James, an authentic Frenchman.

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But, he taught by the book. We had to learn to conjugate verbs, the “sex” of words, accents and punctuation marks. I just wanted to speak, so I bought a record (vinyl) and started talking French.

For our final exam, we had to have an individual conversation, all in French, with Dr. James. I listened to my record. I was conversation ready.

When he asked the time, I said “seven a.m.” When he asked, what I had for breakfast, I said, “chateaubriand” to which he replied in French, “Why? It was only 7 a.m.” From the “record,” I responded with a surprised look, a thump on my watch and “ma montre s’est arretee” translated, “my watch has stopped!”

Now, that was nothing I had learned in class so he asked how I knew. I didn’t know how to answer except to say, “je suis tres intelligent” – translated, “I am very smart.’ To which he slapped his knees, threw back his head, laughed like a hyena and dismissed me. I did pass. Mercy bouquet! Dr. James.

The only useful French I remember is J’ai perdu mes lunettes – translated I have lost my glasses.

But what I took away from that French class is a story of a Frenchman whose lifelong dream was to swim the English Channel. So, he trained for several years and finally stepped into the waters in Dover, England for the 21-mile swim. He would endure the pain, no matter what.

His excitement gave him the early energy he needed for the swim. But, the long hours passed and he could not even see the coast of Northern France. He began to tire. Could he do it? Could he swim the English Channel and accomplish his dream? But, he regained his hope when, finally, in the distance, he got a glimpse of the coast. Could he? 

Only a few hundred more yards.  But his stokes became weaker and weaker until he could not make another.

Finally, the swimmer gave up his lifelong dream of swimming “the Channel.” He stopped, turned around and swam back the other way.

Giving up is most always easier than staying the course.

How many times do we give up when our goals were just within reach?

That was the question a news commentator asked the other night about the “ease” in which many are hollering “Calf-Rope!” and giving up on the battle with novel coronavirus and letting it get a strangle-hold on all of us.

Au revoir.