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Striving for excellence

19 May

Today at Church I was listening to a friend reading from a talk by Elder Stephen E. Snow on the topic of service. The story about the cancer-ridden, dying mother, whose last words were “I wish I had served more […] I could have done more”, really touched me.

I have thought many times about this nagging feeling I often have, when I am really trying to do the right things, but I feel that I could do so much more. Is it right, is it justified? Should I worry about every missed opportunity, or would this be a source of stress best avoided?

My thinking led me to think about my ultimate goal. I really want to become perfect, and I know that millions in the world want the same. However, sometimes, we get distracted and our aspirations are lowered.

People who aspire to perfection will never be fully satisfied with their own efforts to reach it. This is due to the limits inherent to mortality and imperfection. As we reach our limits, we become more aware of our ultimate potential, even though such potential is always out of reach. This is frustrating, and leads such people to always wish they could do more for others. They also feel keenly the sting of missed opportunities.

Conversely, if we feel satisfied with our course in life, happy that we are doing what’s expected of us, we are likely to get comfortable; our sights will lower; our eternal ambition will cease piercing through earth’s atmosphere, and will remain on this temporary, imperfect existence.

Children are justified in thinking “I’m not doing anything wrong, so I can feel good about myself.”; mature adults, however, should rather think: “What more can I do? Who needs me?”.

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