This I Believe

Garrick Santos - Ventura, California
Entered on April 30, 2007

Ever been in a situation when you have the choice of the easy way out even though it is wrong? This position or fork in the road confronts me everyday and it threatens me intellectually and ethically. Most of the time I am willing to fulfill my duty with utmost dedication. Sometimes my drive to commit fully to a situation does not exceed my expectation and therefore I cut the corners. To negate this pessimistic thought, I always think of the maxim that my coach always tells my team and me about slacking, “Character is who you are when no one is looking.”

I think of my actions driven by reputation or how people perceive me to be as they see me then and there. Conversely, when there is an absence of people, I lack the qualities which would compel me to go the extra mile and work harder. This problem is always churning within me whenever I am around people and where there is none at all. I am given the freedom of choice, but do I know what the appropriate choice is?

To me, having to show off to people helps me concentrate in accomplishing things which I would not have the cunning to do alone. For instance, at track practice I must do three sets of “Pain” or in other words: 40 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and an exercise called “posturals”. Though it doesn’t seem like much of a workout, “Pain” is the perfect name for the exercises. I must carry out “Pain” every day. One day, however, I got a sigh of relief when I was able to be alone that day. Then again, my conscious was stirring and I did not know if I should have done “Pain” that day or not. This is such a dilemma for me due to the fact that my coach puts so much trust in his runners that I wouldn’t want to violate his unspecified pact. Another attribute flashes by me as I think and it was the dreaded guilt which stopped me. My thoughts come and go as I think of how to get out of this answered problem. “Should I stay or should I go now?” “It’s like turning in a half done essay.” “No one’s looking.” I never knew how a little white lie could turn out to be a disaster in my mind. Then, while I am still sweating from all this hard thinking, a shadow starts to appear out of the sun. This shadow was very vivid and distinct – it looked like a coach with a clipboard in his hand. Of course with my luck, it was my good old coach. Then he comes up and says to the team, “No pain today guys!” I sigh with relief not only because there was no pain today, but also because I would not have to make the decision for betraying him.

Many things occurred in such a small span of time for ridiculous reasons, but in the end karma won out and it was a win/win situation after all. Plus, a white lie is still a lie no matter the color. From that time on, I just decide to do “Pain” with my fellow teammates so I do not have to sweat over being lazy again. Lesson learned and in all truth, “character is who you are when no one is looking.”