In our last installment we learned our dashing hero had foolishly planned to be in two places at opposite ends of the country AT THE SAME TIME.
Since he doesn’t happen to know any magicians with the magical saw-you-in-half-table. He has to make a decision: Go to Nationals with the goal of earning a place on Team USA, and the right to compete on international soil, garnering riches, fame, and fortune (In actuality, it’s more like “spending lots and lots of money”) whilst simultaneously abandoning his lady to the cold, and cruel wilds of Anchorage, Alaska. Or, go at it the other way around. Do the Alaska thing and skip the glory thing.
All joking aside, this was a hard decision. And here’s why.
In general, I tend to fixate on goals. If I want to do a thing, whatever that thing happens to be, I will focus on it to the exclusion of all else in pursuit of that goal. I had been thinking about, planning, and focusing on the goal of go to Worlds (Which happen to be in Ireland this year) since the minute I left the last WKC Worlds eight months ago.
That means I had been planning out how I was going to raise sponsorship, I had talked to my boss about the time I would need off, I had begun to look at plane tickets and lodging with my parents and girlfriend.
All of it was conditional on my success at Nationals, and by extension, Worlds. But, it was also assumed I would be going. The last 4 years running I’ve competed at this tournament, and the last three years I’ve finished with either a gold or silver medal.
This makes people assume success and actually creates an interesting type of pressure (more on that later).
In a moment’s notice, all of that focus and planning was thrown for a loop because now, this goal was scheduled for the exact same time I had promised to be in Alaska. A trip for which I had nonrefundable tickets, a VERY excited girlfriend, and the status of being a groomsman. In addition, the bride and groom both assumed I was going to be there, and had sent me their vows to edit and smooth out. I was expected to be there. I wanted to be there. But, I had also been pushing
I believe this is the classical version of “between a rock and a hard place.”
Initially, after finding out this news, checking the website (why, oh why hadn’t I done that earlier?!). Parking the car and taking a walk and very carefully not yelling, screaming, or acting like a crazy person. I got back in the car, and started driving back to Milwaukee.
While I drove, I called my parents and then my boss.
After several hours on the phone and getting opinions from other parties. I had settled on a decision. I was going to Worlds. After all, this was important for the business, people get excited about it. It was a decision that made sense and I was ok with.
This thought lasted until I got home and talked to the girlfriend. She wanted to go to Alaska, something which I wholly supported. Just because I can’t go doesn’t mean she shouldn’t! But then, she brought up a point that had never even crossed my mind.
“Corey, we can go to Ireland without doing Worlds.”
That was a bombshell in my brain. Remember the whole fixation thing? It had never even occurred to me that I could just go to Ireland and NOT do karate.
From this point on, my argument was quickly proven to not be nearly as solid as I had thought.
From there, I slid completely into the other court. Now I’m not going to worlds. I’m going to Alaska next weekend. I made a promise to a lot of people, and I intend to keep it. But, this whole experience highlighted something interesting for me.
Worlds meant everything. It was the physical manifestation of all of my goals and work over the past year. I was able to dress this goal up in the get-up of being important to my business. Something which wasn’t incorrect. But also wasn’t wholly right, either. As a business owner, being seen as a professional in a field is very important. We cater to a diverse clientele, and being able to point out a successful, and current, competition record is helpful. But, by missing one event, one tournament (and not even the most prestigious) out of the dozens I do a year, nothing is lost except a little pride on my end.
By going to Alaska, I support my friends in their next step, and I support my girlfriend with new adventures. I’m there for people I care about. And that is far more important than any tournament will ever be. Ultimately, no-one, not even me, will remember what tournament I did or didn’t go to. But, the bride and groom will always remember I was there for them when they asked. And, really, that’s the important thing.
There will always be another tournament. But I only get one chance to support loved ones.