Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
Don’t you wish you could say the same thing.
Yes and no, Anonymous.
There have been two sides to these discussions, a substance side and a process side. The process side has been the most horrible nightmare that I have ever encountered. The substance side has been the most wonderful dream that I have ever experienced. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the hundreds of wins that I have seen on the substance side if I had not lived through the hundreds of losses that I have lived through on the substance side.
I have asked myself from time to time whether I would put up that fateful post of the morning of May 13, 2002, all over again if I had a chance to go back and do it over. I cannot give a definitive answer to that question. The pain on the process side makes me think that it would be crazy to choose that path again. But the amazing stuff on the substance side makes me think that there is no way on God’s green earth that I could ever elect to choose a different path. I have achieved everything that I had ever hoped to achieve with my life multiplied by 500. That’s not nothing. I have been blessed in a very big way.
The reality of course is that none of us get do-overs. The cards are dealt one by one and we play our hands to the best of our ability. I am not happy or unhappy about where things stand. I am insanely happy about where things stand on the substance side and I am insanely unhappy about where things stand on the process side. And of course there is no way to separate the two. We cannot enjoy the substance side wins without working through the ugly, smelly process side stuff. This thing came to us as a package — substance stuff wonderful beyond words and process stuff horrible beyond imagination.
This is why I sometimes use that catch phrase — “I love my country.” I believe that our economic and political systems provide us the means to turn this all into something very, very, very good. I believe that we are as a society working our way through a process that in the end lands us in a place where we all deep in our hearts very much want to go. My job is to steer us to that place.
I am not jumping up and down in happiness. But I am very excited about what the future appears to hold for all of us. I see us as being on the one-yard line in the last minutes of the Super Bowl. I still have to get the ball across the goal line or years of hard work go to waste. But if I can make that one last play for one yard of ground we all get to experience something so good that we will for the rest of our lives look back at these days as the days our our lives that really meant something, the days that made all the other days worth the trouble they brought.
So I don’t want to drop the ball, you know? I want to make a good pass or a good run or whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t focus on whether I am happy or unhappy about where things stand. I focus on getting that ball across the line. I am aware of how happy millions of people will be if I do that. And I am aware of how much human misery will follow if I drop the ball or get intercepted or get tackled. I pray that I am up to it.
I am not even a tiny bit sad that we are as nation on the one-yard line in the Super Bowl. That’s amazing. It is of course a huge honor to have played such a big role in taking us this far. But I do want to make that one last play. Even with the hundreds of successes on the substance side, I can’t afford to let down my guard and celebrate too much until I have made that last pass or that last run. That’s my focus. I feel a combination of excitement of where we all will be when we open the entire internet to honest posting re the implications of the last 35 years of peer-reviewed research in this field combined with a sense of responsibility that I not get too giddy about all the big gains already achieved and start thinking that those last few yards will come automatically — we have to work it to get there and so this is not the time to ease up and do something stupid, no matter how close to the goal line we are today.
I hope that all helps at least a tiny bit.
Love you, man.