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Are We There Yet?

February 18, 2020

I remember reading a story as a young man. It involved an overweight, out of shape kid who for some reason joined the track team. In his first practice, he lined up with the rest of the runners. At the command to run, he sprinted with all of his might. The race was close, but at the 100 yard mark, amazingly he was the winner.

As he collapsed on the ground, he was surprised to see the other runners continuing around the track. They were running the mile race. The coach had used him to pace them for the first hundred yards.

Sisyphus, was cursed by the Greek god Zeus with constantly pushing a boulder up a hill in Hades only to have it roll back down again. He had to do this forever. (Never a good idea to make an enemy of Zeus.)

James Woods plays Hades in the Disney cartoon Hercules. Woods also plays a character named Gabriel Caine in the movie Diggs Town. The key conflict of the movie is that a boxer, played by Lou Gossett JR, has to fight ten boxers back to back. One of the boxers never enters the ring. As the tenth boxer is carried from the ring, Lou Gossett JR is completely spent. The opposing manager asks when he is ready to face the tenth fighter. Confused, his opponent reminds him that the one who failed to enter the ring doesn’t count. And now Lou Gossett JR must face another fresh fighter after he thought he was done.

Just watching it made me exhausted.

In the classic movie, The Hustler, staring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, Newman battles Gleason’s Minnasota Fats character all night long in a back and forth battle playing games of pool. Finally, in the morning, as both men are exhausted, they take a break. Newman collapses in his chair. Gleason leaves and then comes back in a freshly pressed shirt and clean-shaven ready to go again. Newman’s character was already beat at that point.

Each of these stories explores the psychology of constant stress. Of thinking you are done, only to find that you are at the beginning.

I don’t have any impressive business lesson tie-ins. I was just thinking this week that I’m really tired of pushing that rock. The next fighter stepping into the ring looks like a monster. I’m never going to catch those runners and I don’t want to shoot another game of pool.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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