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Goals

By Daniel Hubbard | May 19, 2013

Sometimes in genealogy, life gets in the way.  Sad I know, but true. This will be a short post in honor of this week’s “living” a.k.a. flood recovery, a gas leak resulting in gutting the kitchen, two grade school band concerts, one little league practice, one soccer practice, one choir practice, one soccer game, four baseball games, a national honor society induction ceremony, a presentation (ok, that was actually genealogy), a birthday party for twins that are friends of my twins, finishing a book proof (ok, that was also genealogy but not the normal kind of activity)… a pediatrician visit… a session of Swedish school… Did I mention that we have friends we haven’t seen in a decade coming to visit from Europe in five days?…

I was watching my son’s little league team play. It was getting close to the time limit for the game and his team had been down by a lot and their comeback was great but falling short. The question was whether or not they could fit in one more inning. The decision was left up to the opposing team, the team that would win if they decided there was not time to fit in one more inning. The decision was made. Play one more. That leads to a question. What was the goal?

If the goal was to win, then it was a strange decision for a team with a lead to make. If the goal was to play the game, then it was not a strange decision at all. People usually want to win. Winning can be especially important, and losing especially hard to take, when you are ten years old but, of course you also want to play.  Those two goals can be at odds with one another. The other team batted first and did not score but they were still up by 4 runs.

Research can have different goals too and they can be at odds with one another. Sometimes we research with a specific target in mind. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the best goal is to just see where things lead and enjoy the results.

Back at the Little League field, my son’s team went into their last at bats down 11 to 7. A few minutes later it was tied with the bases loaded. One more hit and they won 13 to 11. One team was ecstatic, the other not so much. What my son’s coach said to his team before they went out for the traditional friendly exchange of “nice game” with the other team was this. “Be extra respectful. They would have won if they had quit when they could have. Instead they wanted to play more.” That is what research should be like—keep going for the fun of it and be excited by wherever it leads you.

Now, you will have to excuse me. I need to check on the linoleum adhesive in the kitchen and then I’m off to Little League.

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