The Value of Almost

There is an old joke about a guy that, when asked if he won, said “no, but I came in second.  Unfortunately, everyone else tied for first”.  I have never quite been in that position but, over the years I have come in second, a lot.  Sure it hurt. It always hurts when something you want and strive for doesn’t come to fruition.  It plays on your sense of self worth, and if you let it, it can defeat you.

I hadn’t been married very long, several hours as I remember it, when, with the wisdom of youth we decided I would quit my job and we would move from Maine to Indiana without any guarantee of future employment.  I was a jet engine mechanic by trade, courtesy of Uncle Sam, and one of the engines I worked on was manufactured in Indianapolis.  It also didn’t hurt that my father in laws company had transferred him there so we would have a place to stay until I got a job. I was however armed only with a questionable skill, a pleasant personality, shined shoes, and a high school education. It would seem that in the world of win, place, or show, I was destined to be listed as also ran.

The manufacturing job didn’t pan out as they had moved on to tractor transmissions, so I went to an agency who sent me on multiple interviews that “almost” didn’t pan out either.  I would come home each night and say things like “I almost got a job today but” (fill in the blank).  At the time, I didn’t realize that what I was really saying was “I didn’t get a job today”.  Too hard. Too painful. Too deprecating. I could find a million reasons for almost.

As years passed, I came to realize that ‘almost’ was as much a part of everyone else’s psyche as it was mine. Statements like “I’m almost finished” or “the shipment is almost here” sounded much better then the alternative, that being “no”.  It was and is a word we can hide behind.  A balm for the conscience if you would.  Oh what a tangled web we weave, etc, etc.” 

But here’s the thing.  Like it or not, it also says something else.  It says “I tried”.  It says that a concerted effort was made that just didn’t succeed.  For whatever reason I lost, but I at least tried.  No shame in that. Actually, that is the stuff success is made of.  Very few if any improvements to life, industry, or our country happened on the first try.  But we almost made it each time, and ultimately did. Our world is built on hope, and hope is spurred by our belief in something or someone.  It is what, win or lose, encourages us to try,   I would much rather embrace the person who tried and almost made it, then the person  that didn’t try at all.  Just sayin.

About oldmainer

I am a retired manager living in Southern Maine and a would be writer of poetry, narratives, short stories, and random opinions, and that's how Oldmainer was born. Recently, I decided to try an experiment. I added photography to the mix, using only a cheap cell phone with a limited camera and the editing software that came with it, and added the blog site Inklings at to showcase the results. So, feel free to use whatever you find interesting or worthy, but please honor the terms of my copyright when and if you do. They may not be much, but they are still a piece of me. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
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8 Responses to The Value of Almost

  1. Your subject goes well with us trying so hard to stop COVID 19 spread. We must keep trying to eventually succeed. I know we will.
    Good thought …. Just saying

    Liked by 1 person

  2. quiall says:

    And you say it so eloquently! We learn more from our ‘almosts’ than from an easy win. You did finally find your ‘win’, didn’t you?


  3. Osyth says:

    I am SO glad that I have found you and your words. Well, accurately, your words since I don’t actually know you at all. But so glad. My husband always says ‘if you never break anything you aren’t doing anything’ … all those almosts mean you were always trying.


  4. George says:

    Another great post, Bob. Great story and lesson that the “I tried” part is tied into almost and much better than doing nothing. at all.


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