I sat on a bench to watch some sailboats and chatted with a man sitting on a nearby bench. I learned that he was born in 1926 in California to a Chinese father (who came here to seek a medical education but was told that even if he completed the course work would not be awarded the degree because he was a foreigner) and American mother (who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Minnesota). He told me how horrible it was growing up a “half-breed.” He said that he and his siblings were tormented and ridiculed. The wounds might have healed, but it was evident the scars had remained. He told me about his wife, who had died, and his children. He told me how he walks five miles in the morning and rides his scooter in the afternoon. How his grandkids spend most of their time in front of a computer playing games with people all over the world. He marveled at that. At one point he just stopped and looked at me and said: “Why am I telling you all of this.” I just smiled, and he kept going. He talked about the jobs he held and the businesses he owned. He told me how he failed over and over again but just kept going. “You don’t fail unless you quit,” he said. We talked some more and when he left I had to smile. Our meeting was chance, or was it?
I believe that people are put in our lives for a reason. I needed to hear his message: “You don’t fail unless you quit.” I’ve been feeling a little down lately, wondering if I should hang it up and concentrate on other things. I know that we all feel like this from time to time. Truth is, I don’t want to keep trying to get over the wall if there’s no way I’m going to be successful. Maybe there’s another wall for me. I read a book recently in which the author said that it’s all right to quit. That successful people are quitters. They quit what they are not good at to focus on what they are. For example, I might try playing the violin and learn that it’s just not the right instrument for me. So maybe I try the flute and find that I’m more successful playing the flute. I quit the violin to find something that I’m better at. And if it’s not playing the flute, maybe it’s playing a sport or writing. What do you think? Are people successful because they quit those things they were not good at? And when do you know that you aren’t good at something? Are rejections the yardstick by which we measure? I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. It’s been rolling around in my brain and I’m trying to make sense of it all.