Monday, July 09, 2007

A Belated Graduation Speech

The Proper Sacrifice.

Since the times when we were still puzzling over whether our bear skin made our butts look fat (and delicious on a spit), it has been common human knowledge that if you want something, you have to sacrifice something for it. Whether it is a goat, a bushel of wheat, your money, all your free time, or all your energy and some of your skin, sacrifice is the only thing that brings us closer to our goals.

The only problem is that there are no guarantees in the sacrifice game.

You could spill the blood of all your goats onto the dry, cracked, dusty ground in honor of your rain god, and yet he may still be angry about that crack you made last winter about building an ark and he may just spit on you and your dead goats instead.

You could spend your whole life training to win the Tour de France, repeatedly pulling some other schmuck up mountain after mountain, waiting for your big break, and when it comes, your handlebars may just come right off your bike and send you to the hospital and to the back of the line.

Especially for those of us of the younger persuasion, the sacrifices asked of our goals can sometimes be enormous and the payoff seem beyond the horizon.

And yet, to give nothing means to get nothing in return. No gain. No prize. No food. No money. In the end, when you line up your sacrifices with what you have gained, it is clear that the more you give, the move you get.

So every day we weigh our sacrifices. How much to give. How much to keep. How much to expect others to give. It's a tricky equation, and the answer is only given after the test is over.

In the end, you always get something from your sacrifice. You may not get what you asked for, but spit is wet. And Tour de France fitness and paychecks are nothing to sneeze at.

So get up early again. Go to practice again. Study more. Volunteer more. Give more. It's all sacrifice, and everything comes of sacrifice, and nothing comes of no sacrifice.

I think God likes the smell of sweat.

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