I shot the life out of a piece of paper last night.  I took a marksman class. That’s where they put a little target in front of you and they teach you how to shoot a hole in the center. It sounds easy, and there were guys there that were amazing, but I wasn’t one of them, yet. I kept shooting towards the left. Couldn’t figure out why and the instructor finally showed me something.

“You have a tendency to curve your hand to the left. The slightest deviation in how your hand holds the firearm here where you stand will alter the trajectory over distance. A tenth of an inch here can mean you miss your target by a foot out there. Distance magnifies your mistake.”

So I’m no world class marksman but I do know a thing or two about life. That principle is as important with aiming as it is with ambition. A few incorrect choices early in a chosen path can lead you to miss your target by years and thousands of dollars. How much you choose to alter your aim now can over time cause you to miss your goals.

Making the smallest choices now can become headline tragedies later. I’ve seen that enough times. I had a best friend way back in high school. I’ll call him Alex. We were inseparable. We did everything together. I used to hang out with his family at Christmas time because I was just an accepted part of the house.

One night we’re at a party with some friends and Alex brings out a piece tinfoil. He unravels it and shows the dusty white powder inside. “Wanna try it?” He asks me. “I just got it from a guy downtown.” I’m looking at him roll up a dollar bill; he and two other guys are laughing and willing to try something new. I wasn’t.

“The slightest deviation in how your hand holds the firearm – here where you stand – will alter the trajectory over distance.”

I’m looking at the powder, I’m looking at those guys, I’m looking at the party, I’m thinking to myself, “If I make this choice what’s the worst that could happen?” Andy was the answer to that question. Andy was a kid I remember in grade school. He came from a poor household with a meth mother. The guy was constantly high in class and always smiling.

I befriended him and went to his house once. Only once. Andy’s home was filthy. There were dirty clothes and dishes everywhere. The dishes were encrusted with molding food and flies were hovering.  His mother is sitting on the couch smoking and cursing and the place had a dark dank aroma. I never went back to Andy’s house and had such a profound appreciation for my own mother who as a single woman raised my brother and I on a night nurse salary.

When I got to high school I lost touch with him. A mutual friend told me a few years later he died of drug overdose. Small choices can lead to big disasters. I’ve seen it over and over. Missed opportunities that people would have died for now lost. Those golden opportunities are lost because people make poor choices when they think future doors would never open for them. They missed the mark.

I’ll tell you what I was thinking when Alex asked me if I wanted a snort. “If I do this.” I thought. “What will I look like ten years from now?” That was my first thought based on what little I know of cocaine. I had this picture of me addicted and ruined. If I became addicted any dreams I had of not being poor and someday making something of myself would be gone. “Guys I’m out.” I said. “I’m going home.”

That was thirty plus years ago. My friend Alex is a recovering addict who can barely hold a job today. You’re reading about me and I run two successful businesses to date and I’ve got my eye on a third. I’m no star yet, but I’m going to be. I have thankfully been able to make solid smaller choices and I believe over the distance of life there will be bigger benefits because of those decisions.

“The slightest deviation in how your hand holds the firearm here where you stand will alter the trajectory over distance.”

So I have some practice ahead of me to figure out how to hold steady when aiming. I’m determined to achieve this goal of hitting the center of the target. I have learned the lesson of the long term.  When I am about to make a major decision I envision what this choice is going to look like over distance. I hope you do the same.

Love ya

Pat

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