Yesterday, when I was so bummed that I couldn’t grab an opportunity, I remembered another story from a different time in my life. That story still has value.
Some years ago, I decided that taking martial arts would help me stay flexible and strong. Instead of starting slowly, I visited a studio for TaeKwonDo, a powerful fighting martial arts, in which you can get hurt. Eventually I broke several bones sparring and doing exhibitions, but I digress.
At the studio, Sensei Lee put me through some paces to see where I would start, and put me in the beginner’s class. Because I have always been competitive, I immediately asked, “How long will it be till I am a black belt?” Mr. Lee, who did not take kindly to women in martial arts, sighed.
He then said, “If you make it through all the tests, if you work out three times a week here in class, you will make it to black belt in five years.” It might as well have been till the 12th of Never.
I looked at him with disbelief and said, “But I will be 37 years old by then!” It seemed to me that I’d be ancient. And the progress was so slow!
Mr. Lee remained placid. He sighed again. “Yes,” he said. “But in five years, you will be 37 years old anyway.”
It was an important lesson in setting goals and working toward them steadily. It was an important lesson in knowing what you want before you start and planning. But most of it, it was knowing that anything worth having is worth waiting for.
—Quinn McDonald no longer practices TaeKwonDo, although she did earn her black belt and celebrated by kicking through four cinder blocks, barefooted.