Such Great Heights

When I first became a Christian, I attended Winnipeg’s own megachurch for some time. Although I now reject much of what that church taught me, many of the catchphrases I heard there continue to jangle about in my skull.

Take the following pithy statement:

I’d rather shoot for the starts and land on the moon than shoot for the mud and hit it every time.

Like all good proverbs, the metaphors at work here do a number of things. There’s up vs down, large vs small, success vs failure—although the success in the second aim is pyhrric.

But the core idea is in setting your ambitions so much higher than what you think is possible, and to go for it. Not only this, but be willing to fail, be discouraged, and get disappointed in the process. Just keep in mind that failure might just look like landing on the moon.

But I’ve always wondered about the moon part, specifically, what would happen if I shot for the moon? The moon is a pretty solid achievement; definitely worth shooting for. But the sneaking suspicion latent in this aphorism is that, although we’re capable of reaching the moon, we won’t reach it by shooting for it. It’s only when our target is far beyond that we’ll reach such great heights.

This lesson has come home to roost in my ambition to post every day until the end of the year. I’ve missed a few days, and more recently, which has been discouraging. But I’ve made 28 posts in 36 days, or about 5.5 posts per week. If I’d said to myself “I’d like to post 5–6 times per week,” that I would have been anywhere near as prolific in my prose output. Although I was pretty sure I wouldn’t achieve my initial post-per-day goal, I’m glad I shot for the stars.

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