My message, or better my story, is directed to the young professionals in the making, our students…
A very cold night just before dawn. A group of friends traveling in two cars on their way to a hunting trip in the heart of Texas. The destination is a large farm expected to be a passage for a herd of deer on its way to feed.
Sixty years ago, alone, and not far away from the South-East border of the Empty Quarter, a young man was roaming the desert and sometimes climbing surrounding mountains in pursuit of what appeared to be a shadow of a deer.
In his mesmerizing stories, it was not hard to sense the strong passion he had for such exhausting but thrilling chase. In his opinion, nothing matched spending time in the serene environment of the desert, as well as the peaceful and sometimes romantic moments he experienced while gazing at the clear night skies waiting for the dawn to break to continue the chase in pursuit of his target.
We arrived at our destination just before sunrise. We split into three groups, each group was in a small cabin within few hundred meters from each other. Each cabin had a small window facing a direction away from the other cabins; obviously for safety reasons.
During the first hour, while being very vigilant for any movement outside the cabin, I tried to recall details from my father’s stories that could make my job today easier and maybe successful. Two hours had passed without luck and cold started to reach my bones! I started to wonder where was the excitement that I felt in my father’s stories and what motivated him to take the risk to cross inhospitable deserts and climb mountains alone in pursuit of a shadow?
After few hours of exasperating waiting, I felt movement behind the cabin. Could be good news after all?! Unfortunately, the source was one of my friends announcing the failure of the first attempt and communicating to the group the decision to leave and try again at the end of the day when the herd was expected to return from its feeding trip.
Just before sunset, we returned to our designated cabins. My prospects at this stage were at the lowest and I hoped that this trip would be over very soon to return home for a warm shower and a hot meal!
When I thought that our so far unsuccessful trip was reaching its final few minutes, and at perhaps no more than fifty meters away from my cabin, I noticed a shadow of a deer grazing, which suddenly became four shadows!
Thinking very fast, not to lose this first and maybe last chance, I fired my rifle at one of the shadows aiming at the location of the body that my father pointed to in his stories to make the kill fast and less painful!
The shot from the rifle was so loud that I thought that the whole of Texas had heard it! To my surprise, and for a moment, the shadow I aimed at did not move! Was the loud sound from the rifle being only in my imagination and the rifle did not fire? But, I had felt the painful kick of the rifle on my shoulder!
The following moments revealed the truth after I saw the shadow collapsing to the ground.
A feeling very far from what I had expected hit me when I and the rest of the group arrived at the scene. The first hunting trip and the catch appeared to everyone very precious, but my feeling was closer to sadness than joy!
It is obvious to me now that the real excitement is not in achieving the goal itself, but in the journey you take to reach that goal with all the challenges along the way, as well as the opportunities that cross your way that you should seize. In my adventure, simply waiting in the cabin for the deer to come was not much of a journey!
Whatever your goal is and how hard and high it is going to be, always remember to look for the treasures hidden in the journey. Enjoy the journey not the destination; in many instances, the goal might not be attainable, but the treasures collected along the way might be more valuable and long-lasting than the goal itself.