Stay the course. Finish it.

I have been spending a lot of my time at tournaments recruiting this summer. Long weeks, rolling into longer weekends. Not much of a break yet. I am less than 4 weeks away from the end of my Master’s degree. Three more weeks of classes and a comprehensive final exam. I feel a sense of accomplishment coming, after two very long years of 78 papers, 169 discussion posts, 663 discussion post responses to my peers and a five day comprehensive exam. I will have stayed the course.  I am about to finish it. Almost 38 years old, and I am finishing my Master’s Degree. I started it because I made a decision to. I think I have proven to myself that it’s never too late to start anything. And starting… well, you can’t finish if you don’t start.

I think I waited so long because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to try some things out, get some experiences and find my passion. I thought a lot about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still do. And my hope is that perhaps I will never truly “grow up.” However, I finally feel I have found what I am most passionate about. I enjoy the sense of responsibility. I like to be responsible for who I am and what I give to the world. That’s what I do. I am responsible to my passion.

Of course, some days are harder than others. When life pulls me down a little  I have remembered what a mentor of mine a long time ago had repeated over and over. “Be a finisher.” I feel like I have a mission in my life and I am on it. The hardest part to remember is to stay the course, no matter what.

Sometimes the road gets windy, the bumps get bigger, and the driver gets tired. But if there is something I keep remembering, it’s the fact that I may only get one shot at any of it. I want to do it right. I think back to all the mistakes I have made along the way, and trust me there have been many… and I realize that they probably are what kept me on the path to begin with. I am ok with that. So I continue to stay the course.

I was sitting in my mechanic’s waiting area this morning while I was writing this and I saw something really interesting. ESPN happened to be on the TV there and they were showing the top 10 dramatic sports moments. From clips like the Kirk Gibson or Joe Carter homeruns to win big games to Michael Jordan’s game winning shot to beat the Cavs at the buzzer, to the US Olympic hockey team and the miracle on ice… They all found a way to finish it. We can go on and on with a list of those moments that we have all seen, on tv and at our local parks in 8 year old bodies. Eventually, we all have a moment where we decide to stay on course and find the finisher inside us, or we collapse in the pressure of the moment and let someone else take it on. And most often, we do a little of both. For most of us, however, they are not usually moments the whole world sees. They are quiet ones, when we are alone or doing an everyday thing, choosing to take on one more chore, or give one more smile to the lady holding the door. Or they are the bigger ones in our lives, the decision to go back to school, to change jobs, to marry the one you love even if the world around doesn’t agree with any of it.

We stay the course because it’s our life’s mission. We finish what we start because we can, and we should. Not for the applause of the crowd, or the pat on the back. But we finish it because who we are depends on it. We go to bed at night and know that if we didn’t finish it,  we would be less of ourselves.

Being a finisher doesn’t always mean being a hero, or even a winner in outcome. Sometimes, we just finish it… neither good nor bad, neither winner or loser. We stay the course. We go to bed and get up the next day and do it all again. And somehow, we find peace and beauty in all of it.

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