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James R. Bracy

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish." These words come from the song Ali in the Jungle by The Hours. The finish differentiates those who have overcome the obstacles from those who have not overcome obstacles. The finish sums up the greatest moments of the race. Between the start and the end is where misfortune befalls the brave souls who are actually in the race. What happens when those in the race run out of breath, cramp up, or worse yet fall and injure themselves? That is up to the person. The person who falls can either let the situation control him or step up and overcome the situation. The great people in this world don't become limp and let the situation bring defeat. No! They stand and accept no excuse, but finish the race.

Ludwig van Beethoven could have stopped performing after he lost his hearing with completely understanding by those around him. But no, he did not stop. Pure ability isn't what carried him through or developed his ability as a musician. He took it upon himself to overcome challenges. Beethoven did not let his health bring him down or control him; it was not his condition that dictated what he could or could not do, it was Beethoven who decided what he could and could not do. Beethoven controlled his own destiny in spite of any obstacles.

The song Ali in the Jungle also names Simpson who overcame huge obstacles that would have brought weaker men to their death. Simpson was a mountaineer who was left for dead after having broken his leg and fallen into a crevasse, yet he fought hypothermia and dehydration while crawling back to camp for 3 1/2 days. Simpson, abandoned, alone, and in poor condition did not let his situation stop him, instead he overcame deathly challenges.

Men like this aren't found. They can't be found. These men make themselves into what they want. These men can come back from any situation because they refuse to surrender control. They don't lay back and relax, surrendering to temporary pleasures, they don't stop because of a broken leg, surrendering control to outside influences. They make their own path in life. Every man stumbles. The difference between a regular man and a great man is that a great man knows how to come back from a stumble. A great man finishes the race no matter what obstacles present themselves.

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