How many times have you suffered an ‘almost.’ For most people, it happens on a pretty regular basis. We ‘almost’ got tickets for the ball game. We ‘almost’ finished first in the class. We ‘almost’ met the man of our dreams. Our kids ‘almost’ got into the latest best preschool. The cake we baked was ‘almost’ finished when we took it out of the oven. There was the promotion we ‘almost’ got. The guy who went through the stop sign ‘almost’ killed us. The dress we bought ‘almost’ fit. My daughter ‘almost’ got the part for which she auditioned, and my husband ‘almost’ got the job for which he bid. The “Fashion Show” contestant and “Top Chef” we drooled after, ‘almost’ won the challenge. We ‘almost’ grew old without having accomplished what we want, but we realized it before it was too late. And in the big political picture—which is never as important as our day to day efforts, Hillary Clinton ‘almost’ won the nomination. Al Gore ‘almost’ won the Presidency. And Senator Kennedy ‘almost’ stayed well enough to be involved in the heath care battle
There are almosts that have little effect on what we do everyday and there are almosts that impact on the way we live our lives. For example, Michel Jackson (one of my two favorite subjects) almost got through that Pepsi commercial without catching on fire. That one almost, apparently changed the direction of his life. And Governor Sanford almost got away with his trip to Argentina, but he got caught and woe is him and his family.
Is there anything we can do to avoid the pitfalls of an almost? And if we stop thinking ‘almost,’ but never achieve’ always,’ does it mean that the things that don’t come to fruition have to be recognized as failures. (I know, this is much more philosophical than I ordinarily get but I wanted to prove I was capable of pithy thinking – or at least of thinking. Actually, I ‘almost’ understand the things I am writing ) Or maybe a better question is, should we just stop thinking in almosts and nearlys and only describe those things at which we have had success. Maybe, in order to insure a positive attitude, everytime we say almost, we should have to put a quarter in a jar.
Last week I was in Seattle visiting mom. It was the first time I noticed how often there were almosts in our language. My brother and sister-in law were having a garden party and we ‘almost’ made it through the evening without rain. I guess we thought it was a nice way to describe the fact that it not only rained, it poured, and there was thunder and lightning. Mom tried to walk more than the few steps she has managed over the last few months and when we talked about it we said that she ‘almost’ made it to the elevator. It was hard for us to admit that her physical abilities are slowly getting more limited so we talked about it in the best possible light. The almosts plagued my vocabulary to the point that every time I was about to say it , I stopped myself and tried to find an alternative that was not tentative. But all I could think of was nearly or about – neither of which was more positive or appropriate.
Where am I going with this? I have no idea, but I was tired of writing about over sexed politicians and weird celebrities and I thought it was time to change the subject to something more thought provoking. Anyway, I am going to make a serious attempt to think about ways to describe success rather than couching failure in a word. And I am also going to abide by that old saying that, “Almost only counts in horse shoes.” And I guess bocce – which I thought was an Italian candy, or maybe that’s Baci --Does anyone even play horse shoes anymore?? We’re just sayin’…Iris