I don’t know who watched the Spurs v. Thunder the other night, but the end of the game reminded me to write a bit about a topic I meant to touch on months ago. Down four with under a minute left, LaMarcus Aldridge drilled three free throws to bring the Spurs within a point of their rivals. Shooting foul shots is no easy thing, and draining three in a row, especially after being unintentionally iced by the ref after the second shot, is pretty impressive in it’s own right. Doing it with 20 seconds left in the game and to bring you within a point of your rival is really something else.
The reason I meant to write about it awhile back was because I first thought to bring this up watching the Mets lose the world series last year. Down 3 games to 1, the Mets took game five to extra innings, only to give up five runs in the twelfth. With the two previous batters striking out, Mets rookie Michael Conforto stepped up to the plate and slapped a single out into right field. He took second on fielder’s indifference and then was left on second when the last batter struck out looking.
Conforto wasn’t going to win the World Series in that at-bat, he couldn’t have won the game even. But he could keep the Mets in the fight, could keep the game going, and despite being down enormously with long odds, he saw a ball he could connect with and made it work. He could only do as much as he could do, in this case, get on base, and then he had to count on his team to do what they could to take advantage of what he had done. And they didn’t.
You can only do as much as you can do, but you can do at least that much. So do it.
I feel like at this point this should turn into some environmental call to action or political point-making, but I’m not going to do that because it is lame, it has been done, and I doubt I will make any more compelling a point on any of those topics than anyone else has done.
Instead I would approach it from a view of mindfulness and courtesy in the way you live your life. If you can help someone, and you should help them (if it’s the right thing to do- e.g. this example from The Dixie Chicks), then help them. Brian Tracy says:
Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.
Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’
And he’s a self-made millionaire so he must have some valuable insight that hasn’t reached us self-made thousandaires yet. But it seems pretty accurate to me. There’s no reason not to help, not to do what you can for others, not to do all you can for others if the only reason not to is that there’s no direct reward for yourself.
But I think it should apply to all things. You can only do what you can do, I guess that means just doing your best and that sounds so lame. At the climax of The Lion in Winter (1968) –our greatest President‘s favorite film- King Henry II is going down to the wine cellar he’s locked his sons in, and, having condemned them to death, they’re sure he has come to kill them. Watch:
‘When the fall is all that’s left, it matters.’
When Conforto got up there and swung his single, he was going down fighting. He did his best. Prince Geoffrey (the guy that calls Richard a chivalric fool) would have been Flores, who batted after Conforto, and watched a pitch that could have kept the game alive slap a strikeout into the catcher’s mitt without having ever lifted the bat from his shoulder.
Do what you can. Leave the game, close the day, lock the door, put your tools down, shut the light, whatever, but do it knowing you did what you could and that was all that you could do and in that nonexistent scoreboard that measures your mettle you’ve today added a few points, even if you lost the game or failed the test or whatever other analogy is fitting here.