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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Learn that When One Door Opens...

One day recently a student came in and "asked for leave" (a Chinese-English euphemism for saying "I won't be in class").

She asked if she would get credit for being present. I replied that no, of course not, if she wasn't there, she couldn't be marked "present."

But she was on the volleyball team, she said, and they had a match in Guangzhou, and it wasn't her fault.

And I found myself saying the oddest thing, the opposite of an optimistic expression we're all familiar with. I said, "But remember, when one door opens, another one closes."

She didn't get it. And I'm not sure I did either until I thought about it for a few days.

And then it hit me: This is the lesson in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken."

We make our choices in life, and despite the constant yammering that "You can have it all," you really can't.

If you choose the life of a solitary mendicant, you can't be the father of four.

If you choose to be CEO of a Fortune 500, you can't simultaneously be a Peace Corps volunteer.

Every choice for is also a choice against.

And I think a lot of frustration comes from not realizing this.

So accept the fact that time, and energy, and resources are limited. There's only so much you can do. Do that, then relax, knowing you've done your best.

You'll be happier.

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