Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Excuse vs. Reason

It's good to be back. We managed to stay dry for most of our camping trip, and we had a wonderful 4th of July with friends in the afternoon (see Kelley Grate link for photos - thanks again Kelley and Sue) and family in the evening (photos to be posted in Part II of this post later today.) My family is so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of people!!!

My brother and I competed in the Sports Hotline Doubles Tennis Tournament over the weekend (see post below for a little background information.) Our first match was Saturday afternoon against two high schoolers. I was a little nervous going into this match because I know there will come a time when the "new generation" will take the stage from those of us who have been out of high school/college for quite awhile. My brother and I used to be on one side of this equation, and eventually we will be on the other side. However, this was not the year for the younger generation, and we went through the match with ease. The win put us in the finals on Sunday afternoon against a couple who is 20 years or so older than us, and we have faced them several times in the past and won each time pretty easily. Before I get into the details of the match, I will explain tennis scoring to those of you who do not play. In order to win the match, a team must win 2 sets. To win a set, a team must win 6 games. To win a game, a team must win 4 points. To say I started out the match a little rusty is an understatement, and we dropped the first set 3-6. I give my brother credit; he only said one statement in frustration during this set, and I deserved any critical comment that came my way. However, I got going after that first set, and we proceeded to win twelve of the next 13 games, taking the last two sets 6-0, 6-1. The thoughts going through my mind during this match are what prompted this post subject.

I really can't remember the last time I played as poorly as I did in the first set. The only reason we won 3 games that set is because of our serve - I won 2 games when I served and Doug won 1 - we didn't have to rally too much. I could not keep the ball in play. During this set, a variety of excuses were going through my mind as to why I was playing so bad. In fact, instead of concentrating on the match, I was putting together this litany of excuses to give my brother, my dad, my family, and friends as to why we didn't win.

1. The wind. I have always hated playing in the wind, and it was swirling pretty good on that day.

2. I haven't practiced. It's hard to play at that level of tennis with no practice.

3. The heat. It was in the 80's if not hotter, and the sun was beating down on us.

4. I didn't have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes.

5. I'm out of shape. I didn't have the stamina to be out there that long.

6. I was distracted. Everyone else in our camping group had gone swimming, and I was stuck here playing this match. (I was also distracted putting this post together in my mind.)

I could probably list several more excused that are lamer than the ones above, but you get the point. However, I didn't need to pull out my arsenal of excuses, because I pulled it together and we won. Then I got to thinking about my excuses as to why we lost the first set. And when I thought about it, none of those variables changed in the last two sets - it was still hot, I didn't have a hat, the wind didn't die down, I couldn't really count the first set as "practice," and I doubt that playing that first set suddenly got me in shape. My family was still swimming, and I was now not only stuck playing this match, but I was playing poorly on top of it.

When watching sports competitions, I hate observing people who make excuses for losing. The athletes blame the refs, or an injury, or the coach, etc. Many people do not want to take responsibility for the loss. I think that's true in areas of life other than sports. People will say work isn't going well because of the boss, or there isn't enough time in the day, or they're underpaid, or the coworker isn't picking up his slack. The marriage isn't working because he works too late or she nags too much. Parents I work with can't keep a job because the child care is unreliable or the alarm clock broke. It's excuse after excuse after excuse. I just don't see many people taking responsibility for the way their lives are going. Granted, there are unforeseen circumstances that can hinder any endeavor. But on a daily basis, I believe our lives are a direct result of the choices we have made - good or bad.

I looked up the words EXCUSE and REASON on the online dictionary and thesaurus, and I was glad what I found because I felt it supported what I was thinking. The definition of excuse is "to explain in the hope of being forgiven or understood." Some synonyms given were "alibi," "apology," "cop-out," "cover-up," "disguise," "justification," "trick." However, when I looked up reason, the definition is "The basis or motive for an action." Synonyms were "comprehension," "deduction," "discernment," "intellect," "logic," "understanding," "wisdom,"

Exuses seem to be a person's way of justifying something undesirable, where as a reason is the actual truth as to why something has occurred. So the bottom line about that first set is that my EXCUSES were not the reason we lost that first set. The REASON was because the other team was playing better than we were. The REASON we won the last two sets is because we were playing better than the other team. The responsibility in all three sets fell to Doug and I, not the outside variables.

This touches a little bit on the spiritual side, which I said I would not do, but I was mulling over in my head if it is possible to use God as an excuse instead of a reason. It's too much of an abstract thought in my head right now to type any more about it, but it seems as if there has been times where I have thought this - can't exactly put my finger on it. However, I want to be a person, and teach my children to be, a person who is willing to take responsibility for my actions, good and bad, and not be one who always has an excuse.


Blogger Kelley said...

Excellent thoughts! This hits home for me right now as I feel I am always giving my list of "reasons" why I'm not having any luck finding a job. Are these legit reasons or are they excuses made to cover my less than aggressive hunt? It's hard to feel like you're failing when the whole world (well at least our small part of it) is watching in anticipation of our sucess.

July 05, 2006 12:02 PM  

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