What a Wasted Opportunity

Re-post. Any Sherlock fans out there?


What an exhausting day.

Went on something of an adventure, then had something of a workout — physically first, then mentally.

And faithfully abiding by Murphy’s law, sleep escapes me. So here I am. On the internet in the middle of the night. Although it is the middle of the afternoon somewhere. Maybe China.

Anyway… the last episode of Sherlock series 3 airs in just over 12 hours, so for the past month or so, I’ve had the “cumber bumber wumbers” as Simon Pegg articulated so well in an interview. I’ve also infected a few people with it. For those poor victims, I won’t apologize, it’s LOVELY. But if you are concerned, don’t worry, in about 12 hours, you’ll be a mess, to put it mildly. Then it’ll linger for about a week, maybe two, and gradually fade and you’ll be alright for the next 18 months. Then the cycle repeats I’m afraid. The only way to be cured is to have the cast and crew send the show down a drain of disgrace.

But yes, all this to say… thumbs up AND brownie points if you recognize the Sherlock moment from The Sign of Three that the title of this post refers to.

I just watched a Ken Robinson talk on YouTube… If you don’t know who he is, look him up. His talks and his ideas are inspiring.

The topic was much of the same as what he always talks about, which is the need for a reform in education. What I love is that he gets his point across by getting to what he believes is the root of the problem, and that is that people who are brilliant, get told by the current educational system that they’re not.

He gives a few examples of the few cases where this hasn’t happened. Where an individual was encouraged to do something, and not just anything, and not just any way. It’s also important to note that encouragement in one case hindered the person’s success, in another’s it fuelled it, in another’s who knows where that person would be today had he been encouraged.

One person had been encouraged to pursue music all her life. And she did, without a thought. But it wasn’t until much later that she realized that though she was extremely musically talented, it wasn’t her passion, it wasn’t her element. So she became an editor. Because she’s always loved books, cramming them into her busy rehearsal schedules whenever she could. Well, all that money, all those years… “What a wasted opportunity!” echoed Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice in my head when I first heard the story.

She’s never been poorer, but also never happier.

So I thought, what if that happens to me, where I plan this whole thing and then it hits me, faaaaaar into the future what I was meant to do. Or worse, what if I never get that lightbulb moment?

So then my mind proceeded to feed my unhealthy (temporary!) addiction against my better judgement:

“You’ll have a stable life, financially, emotionally, everything will still be alright. More or less. I’d call that a result.”

“Yeah. You’ll have a miserable time at a dull job earning lots of money to sustain yourself for a few decades, doing that thing you don’t enjoy doing. What sort of result do you care about?”

Or as JM would put it…
“Staying alive. So boring! It’s just… STAYING…”

*Combo brownie points for those references.*

Another example that was presented was an Olympic gymnast who could walk on his hands as easily as he could on his feet as a child. He too, was encouraged, leading up to his athletic and successful career.

But think about it. Walking on your hands. Not exactly a practical skill in the wider part of the job market. His parents could’ve easily told him to stop, and to behave, and to do what he’s supposed to do, and walk properly on his feet, the right way round. Instead, his mom encouraged him and is in a way, responsible for his success.

So then I thought… Well, the thing that I love to do, or at least the thing that I think I live to do is a bit strange too. Not as strange as walking on my hands all the time, mind. But if I told people, they’d certainly scoff, internally if not outwardly. I would. Even I’m not totally convinced it can count as a profession. If it does, it certainly isn’t a stable one.

But I’ll tell you one thing. Having one person, just one person, believe in you, and you believe them when they say you can do it, is exhilarating. One person. That’s all the excuse you need, to keep doing what you love no matter what obstacles get thrown at you, and how many and how hard.

So thanks Mom 🙂 If ever that changes… Please just pretend that it hasn’t. Please.

The other example — and I feel I am wildly out of order, but it’s a 3 am blog, not a school paper — is when a student was being sent off to university, and the parents were told to spare him their advice.

So they did, reluctantly. And their son became a classics major. While the study of dead languages was fascinating, the parents knew that it wasn’t exactly a demand in the job market.

Later, the son came up and announced that he changed his mind about his major. He wanted to do something more useful. The parents tried to contain themselves.

He was going to be a philosophy major.

I’m sure the parents could feel the whole in their wallets tear a little wider. I wonder how much it took for them to keep holding back.

Eventually the son changed his mind again and became an art history major, and got a job. I forgot what it was, but he got a decent salary. But that’s not important. What’s important, is that he would never have gotten that job had it not been for his knowledge of the ancient languages, the intellectual skills he learned in philosophy, and his training as an art history major.

You can’t plan your life. Life is an adventure, and adventures rarely ever go exactly according to plan.

Bilbo Baggins certainly didn’t expect to be flattering a dragon that haf teeth taller than him. John didn’t expect his best friend to crash his proposal because it would be funny. I didn’t expect finding a house would be like going on a treasure hunt today. Or yesterday, rather.

Yeah we’ll make mistakes, we’ll make the wrong choices, we’ll be “wasting opportunities.” We’ll be spending and wasting time doing the things we hate when we could be doing the things we love. And plenty of good reasons for it too, don’t get me wrong. There is a reason why we’re unreasonable, there are indeed many factors that keep us from our passion and our element, all of which are often backed up by statistics and common sense in some way shape or form.

But what if all that time, money, energy, and effort in the “wrong” thing… wasn’t wasted? What if it’s okay to mess up, what if we were MEANT to mess up, in order to get to where we’re “supposed” to be?

It often does have to get worse before it gets better, doesn’t it.

The point I’m trying to make is, maybe there isn’t such thing as a wasted opportunity, unless you deliberately refuse it when you recognize one.

It’s a miracle that we were born at all, and every life story is unique, and is a tumultuous masterpiece full of adventure, waiting to be read daily. Not by others, not all the time anyway I don’t think, but by you. Every hour, ever day, every year, is the next installment of your story. You’re the only who’s reading the story, so no one knows what will happen. Except the author of course.

But who is that exactly? Is it you after all?

With God, there’s no such thing as a wasted opportunity. Actually, with God, there’s no such thing as waste. He uses everything, everything to try and get you closer to Him. He’s in control. Always has been. He’s been working all this time (except for that one day off), writing the history of the world, one life at a time.

Whatever choice you make, with anything, can be a good one. It can also be a bad one, or a very bad one in fact. But by the grace of Jesus Christ, we can come before the Father and place it in his hands. When He’s ready, He’ll open up his palm. It won’t matter whether we made a good decision or a bad decision because in the sovereign hands of the one who forged the stars, it will become the right decision.

It will almost never be an easy thing, and there are bound to be some hard earned lessons and consequences, but that’s all what makes it the right decision.

Brothers and sisters, if you believe in Christ’s resurrection, why are you afraid? Why are you worried about how your life is going to play out?

The grace found at the cross has granted us the opportunity to be free, and do whatever it takes to fulfill the purpose God has placed in your heart and your mind and your soul — to glorify Him — in the way that He has designed us to do it. Don’t waste it.

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