Excuse me Sir!


Hey there folks!


So I was sitting around this morning trying to come up with something to write about and honestly it felt like the well was starting to run dry. When you write on a near daily basis it is hard to keep things new and not repeat yourself. Just about the time this thought popped into my head I asked myself, “why the hell are you making excuses?”. Then I realized that is a perfect topic to discuss, excuses.


I remember several arguments I have gotten in with my brother because of excuses. Normally it will start out with him coming to talk to me about something that is on his mind. This is a big step for him, and normally means he has exhausted all other options to deal with whatever is bothering him. So we will talk about the issue and I will offer my advise which he will summarily reject. Usually about this time he is so frustrated that he throws in the towel. Right about this time the excuses will start coming, which are basically attempts to justify why the problem is beating him.


Now, throughout this whole process I am, at least in my mind, trying to provide my brother with encouragement and support. After all he is my brother, I love him and believe in him, and I just want to see him achieve that of which he is capable. However, when the excuses start flying my support becomes more aggressive, and probably starts to look a little more like badgering. In my mind there is no reason to give up on something that you want. Attitude and determination are critical components to success. Since my early attempts at encouragement and support do not seem to be working, I now turn to challenging my brother. Unfortunately this tactic never works, you think I would have learned this in 30 years of dealing with my brother, but I am nothing if not consistent.


Generally, I start chiding him for making excuses, because I think he is better than that, but he would always get angry and ask, “what is the difference between an excuse and a reason?”. This question would usually end the argument because I never had a good answer. To be honest excuses and reasons seem to be one and the same thing. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that while they are the same, the point of my argument against excuses rests on intent.


In the end both words are discussing matters of causation, one circumstance beget another circumstance. The difference I have come to understand between the two words, excuse and reason, is simple. A reason is used in exposition, you are simply reporting on events that transpired and stating that situation B happened as a result of situation A. An excuse is when you are using this line of causation to justify giving up or failing at a particular course of action, I can’t achieve situation B because of situation A.


In simplest terms it comes down to this question. When is it ok to give up pursuing something that you truly want? If you realize that what you are pursuing is no longer worth the effort, than chances are you do not really want whatever that happens to be. For example, I went into college knowing beyond any shadow of doubt that I wanted to become a professor of Japanese history. After my undergraduate work I applied to a few graduate schools but did not get in anywhere, which caused me to take stock of my surroundings and realize that I had charged after my goal so blindly that I did not want what I originally intended. My journey had changed me and as a result what I wanted also changed. However, if there is something you truly want than in my humble opinion there is no reason to ever give up on that goal. I now know that what I really wanted is to be a published author and I will be damned if anything is going to stop me from achieving that dream.


I know that at the end of my days I would rather look back on a string of failures, than a bunch of excuses. If I fail at the very least I know I am being true to myself and giving myself the opportunity to succeed. If all I do is make up excuses than all I have done is throw in the towel on myself and deny myself the pursuit of happiness.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Am I a merciless task master, or just a fool who doesn’t know what he is talking about? Better yet does any of this ring true with you, or are there things you can point out to make more sense of my muddled ramblings?


2 thoughts on “Excuse me Sir!

  1. Never really thought of that distinction before. To take it a step further, do you think your brother (or anyone, for that matter) is bringing this to you with these excuses to not only explain his failure to someone he hopes to impress or whose approval he desires, OR is it in hopes that you agree with him and validate his feelings of a “legtimate” failure? If that made any sense….


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