There's a great story about Gilbert Arenas, the Washington Wizard's guard, on CNNSI today (I'll paste because it's in a long-ish article):
It's a little before midnight when Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas enters the practice facility at Washington's Verizon Center. Tossing aside his gray sweat suit, he walks to the right baseline and puts up a shot. Swish. Collecting his own rebound he takes a step to his left and fires again. Swish. Slowly, he makes his way toward the foul line ... and stops shooting. Not yet, he says to himself. "I'm protesting the free throw line," says Arenas. "I'm disappointed in it. I want the free throw line to know, 'Hey, I'm not happy with you right now.'"
The sight of Arenas working out late is hardly unusual; after a wee-hours shooting session before Washington's playoff opener, he slept in the players' lounge. But now he has no games to prepare for. Two-plus weeks have passed since he went from deadeye to disappointment, his stellar first-round effort against the Cavaliers (34.0 points per game) undone by two missed free throws at the end of Game 6, setting up Damon Jones' series-winning corner jumper. Famously obsessive, the 24-year-old Arenas brooded about the foul shots into the night. "I just sat on my couch wondering what the hell just happened," he says. "Right then I knew I had to get back out there. You just can't let something like that linger."
Arenas was back in the gym the morning following the loss to Cleveland. And the day after that, and the next day and every day since, lifting weights and shooting jumpers -- but avoiding the free throw line until he feels ready for it. The Wizards' trainers have pleaded with Arenas to take a week off, as he had originally planned. Instead he has added laps in a nearby swimming pool to his regimen. Let your body recover, they cajoled. Instead he purchased a mountain bike to build his endurance on the 100-mile trails that wind through Washington.
I think we all have a little bit of this type of determination and passion within ourselves towards some goal that drives us, but sometimes, the vision of that goal and the drive to achieve it becomes muddied and diminished by the drudgery of crap that we have to wade through on a daily basis. Other times, we let little setbacks pull us off the path and we use these as excuses to say to ourselves, "hey, I can't do this".
The goal seems too distant and far too high to surmount. But in the end, the most valiant (and reasonable) effort that one can make is to put one's best towards achieving even a small portion of what one sets out to do.
I read a great reply by Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist, in Time magazine a week ago; when asked about her favorite Koranic verse, she replied:
There is a verse that says God swears by time. Anything you gain in life, you pay for with your time. Time is the most important thing that has been given to man. This inspires me because it reminds me how short our time here is.
My friend Joe recently (finally) cancelled his subscription to World of Warcraft so that he could focus on his graduate studies more. I think sometimes we tend to forget just how short our mortal time is and as such, we tend to forget where our efforts are misplaced.
But look who's talking; I somewhat feel like a hypocrite since there are times when I'm terrible at managing my time and focusing my passion and drive to build awesome applications. I admit that it's been quite a while since I've felt that drive, but it's always been that way with me; it comes and goes from time to time...now if I could only reign in the essence of that feeling...