Grab what you can!

Hand reaching out for glowing golden key
Photo: © Sergey Nivens / 123RF Stock Photo

I wonder what went through your head as you read the title of this article. Is this about being selfish? Is he promoting consumerism? Is he crazy?! Let me tell you right now that this is not about consumerism and no, I’m not crazy. Is this about being selfish? Yes and no. No, because this is not about being selfish as it is conventionally understood, that is being overly possessive or desiring material things like gadgets and accessories. This article is about being selfish of something else; that something is OPPORTUNITY.

I’m sure we’ve come across the saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” What does the saying tell us? One, those who rise early find their food. Two, those who are ready when an opportunity comes their way stand to benefit. Birds that don’t go out in search of food early have a lot of searching to do. Early in the morning the worms leave the safety of the underground and come to the surface. That’s when they are easily spotted and caught. Once they return underground they are very difficult to catch. The window of opportunity is small and only those who are alert and prepared during that time can guarantee their fill.

The new academic year offers similar possibilities. What happened last year isn’t very important. Just because you failed or didn’t do well in mathematics or social science or any other subject last year doesn’t mean you won’t do well this year. This is a new year. New worms (opportunities) have and will continue to come to the surface. Are you alert and prepared to catch them? You might or might not have a new teacher but you definitely have new portion. That means you are on the same level as all your classmates, including the scholars, since the portion is new for them as well. It doesn’t matter very much what kind of bird (student) you are or how big your beak (intelligence) is. What matters is, as the saying goes, the ‘early’ flight of the bird. If you grab the opportunities to learn there is great room for success. At the end of the day what counts is not how many worms you catch, that is, not how much you remember or how many marks you get, but whether you have had your fill, that is, whether you have learnt something and are able to apply and make use of that knowledge in practical situations. The success of the bird is determined by its ability to capture the worm/s. Your success is dependent on your ability to educate yourself. This ‘education’ means a lot more than scoring marks. It has to do with your whole personality.

Greek mythology tells of a character by the name of Caerus. He is the personification of opportunity. He is depicted in the following manner: he is young and beautiful; since opportunity never gets old it is always fresh and new; he stands on tiptoe because he is always running and the wings at his feet enable him to fly away just as quickly as he comes; in his hands he holds scales balanced on a sharp edge depicting the uncertainty of his arrival. The final and perhaps most interesting characteristic of Caerus’ appearance is the single lock of hair on his forehead which represents the fact that he can only be caught when he comes head on. Opportunity waits for nobody. He comes and goes like the wind. Those who are ready to grab him by the lock of hair as he rushes past will enjoy the fruits he brings but the others will be left with empty hands.

Success comes to those who grab at the opportunities that come their way. Those who rest on their laurels risk losing out on all the new opportunities that are born.

Returning to the opportunities this new academic year brings, it is absolutely intolerable for anyone to say that they are high and dry. Opportunities are available to all; some hold of them while others let them pass by. Take the example of maths. All are exposed to the same teacher and portion but only some will solicit extra help and spend those extra hours in study while others will shirk studying and postpone till the last moment. Opportunities do not wait for you to take them. They are like the worms which come out for a little while and then go back down. We have to be alert when they present themselves and grab them. If we let them pass us by we have lost them. They may sometimes return but usually they are gone for good. There is no use crying over what is lost. For this reason it is absolutely vital that we all enter this new academic year with a positive mindset. We have to put all that happened last year in the past and make up our minds to make the best of what we have before us. Scholars and failures alike (not forgetting all those in between) must put their successes and failures behind them, otherwise they might risk getting swollen headed and lethargic. Success comes to those who grab at the opportunities that come their way. Those who rest on their laurels risk losing out on all the new opportunities that are born. So be selfish when it comes to grabbing opportunities. Your success or failure depends on it.

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Ian Pinto
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Ian Pinto

Ian Pinto, SDB, is a poet and writer with an anthology of poems, Pen Downs (2018), and numerous articles in newspapers, magazines and journals to his credit. He currently teaches at Don Bosco Agricultural School, Sulcorna, Goa.