It's the Journey, Not the Destination
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, 9/5/96
"Old Hokies and New Hokies, Part 2"
I received an email from a gentleman the other day who was a little upset with my August 5th opinion piece, The Difference Between Old Hokies and New Hokies. It seems that in reading the piece, he interpreted my listing of all of those painful non-accomplishments in Hokie sports history as criticism of that time period and of the teams that participated in them.
Not at all - I didnt intend to present the non-accomplishments as criticism of those past teams. The only thing I ever criticize is lack of effort, and none of the Hokie teams in the past can be accused of a lack of effort. Everybody wants to win, and certainly those teams were trying their best to do exactly that. The Sugar Bowl champs of last year arent any better in spirit than the guys who went 2-8-1 in 1992, and I didnt intend to make it sound like that.
But in the course of reading this gentlemans email, I realized that he has a remarkable perspective on Hokie sports, one that we would all do well to emulate. I wanted to share his viewpoint with you in the hopes that youll learn as much from his email as I did. Because this is a man who knows whats important and how to look at life, and in particular, how to look at Hokie sports.
He Was Telling Me That I Missed the Point
The Hokie who sent me the email asked that his letter not be printed, and it was a long one, so I wont print the whole thing here. But I think that by printing bits and pieces of it, I can convey his points and pass them on to you. The mans name was Tom, and he told me that his journey with Tech sports began in 1958, which Ill assume means he was a freshman that year.
Tom made it very apparent early on in the email that he wasnt happy with the way I had referred to the Hokies past as decades of despair. He even got off a good line early in the letter, when he said, You have defined this as an opinion and not a fact, and this is good, because gathering of facts can change opinions.
Ouch, is my nose bleeding? Because I just got tagged.
The remainder of his letter was a lot less combative, and in his own way, Tom proceeded to take me to school and remind me of some things I think we can all be reminded of. He made a couple of particularly insightful statements that when examined, relay the point of what his letter was about:
Tom said, I sensed that you are looking for a destination and focusing on when and where you want to end up, rather than the journey. Shortly after that, he said, You spoke of going over the top. Does this mean there is a benchmark one reaches in sports? Where does one go after they go over the top?
Both of those statements are very good points, and Ill return to them in a minute. Just remember them, for now.
Toms Memories of Tech
Like most of you who emailed me in response to that Old Hokies/New Hokies column, Tom then proceeded to list for me some of his memories of Virginia Tech sports. Tom goes back to the days of Miles Stadium and the War Memorial gym and here are the things he remembers:
Notice anything about that list of memories? I did. Its completely devoid of scores and the words win and lose. When Tom remembers four decades of Tech sports, he doesnt think about what happened. He thinks about what it was like. Because to him, thats whats important about all this.
Its the journey, not the destination.
And Heres Why the Journeys Important
So what happens, now that weve won the Sugar Bowl? Are we over the top? Do we quit now? Of course not. We set the goal a little higher and shoot for it again. If we hit that mark, well, well move it yet again and go for something better.
You can always do better. Doing better is part of the satisfaction we get out of life, but in the end, its the effort and the striving that make it all worthwhile, not what we accomplish. As they say, win or lose, its the trying that reveals our true character to us. And its the things we experience along the way that shape our lives and memories. Tom, you see, knows that.
In this day and age, when were obsessed with rankings and scores and measuring our performance against the next guys benchmark, we tend to forget to look around us as we go through life, and treasure what we have and the things weve experienced.
Tom obviously has some very special memories of attending sports events at Virginia Tech, like all of us do. So Tom, if you feel that I trivialized your treasured memories of Tech sports by characterizing those times as decades of non-accomplishment, then for that, I apologize. I know how I would feel if someone told me the 80s were a decade of despair for Virginia Tech. Id say Hey! What about Bruce Smith? What about Dell Curry and Bimbo Coles? What about the Peach Bowl?!?! In setting me straight, Tom reminded me and everyone who reads Hokie Central whats important.
I repeat: it's the journey, not the destination.
So the next time you remember the Sugar Bowl, try not to think of the score, and the way the Hokies pasted Texas. Remember instead how awed you were when you came up the tunnel in the Superdome for the first time and saw how HUGE it is. Remember the delirious faces of 30,000 of your closest friends as we all cheered on the team that had brought us so much fun during the year. Remember what it was like seeing Mike Bianchin, Techs hulking offensive tackle, cry like a baby after the game, and seeing J.C. Price hoist the lunch pail over his head. And remember what it was like when it was over, and you couldnt wait eight months for it to start all over again.
Remember not what it was like to win, but what it was like to share it with your friends later. Thats whats important. I think we all know that at heart, but Tom just needed to remind me of it.
Thanks for your letter, Tom. Its letters like yours that make all the time I spend on Hokie Central worthwhile.