The old proverb says almost is never enough. We hear this all the time, and perhaps it makes us fear the dreaded “almost.” However, it’s inevitable that our lives will be filled with many “almosts,” and it’s easy to fall victim to believing that they’re meant to be something more.
In the math world, this idea is described as a basic concept known as an “asymptote.” Dictionary.com defines an asymptote as, “a straight line approached by a given curve as one of the variables in the equation of the curve approaches infinity.” It involves an axis that a curve can get so close to crossing but never actually does.
So, I don’t live in the math world. I live so far from the math world that those who inhabit it wonder about the inhabitation in mine and probably are building robots to come explore it. Yet, this was one concept that always stuck with me. For those who are unfamiliar with it, there is an entire lackluster, mathematical meaning behind the concept that you can learn about from an educational expert that could explain it much better than I could. But this is what I focus on: asymptotes embody the notion that something can seem to be so close, yet can never be reached. It’s a simple, fascinating idea because it’s one that we all know way too well.
Whether you realize it or not, asymptotes are everywhere. An asymptote can be tangible or intangible, a person or an object, a situation or a dream. An asymptote is going in for the second interview but not receiving a job offer. It’s being in the top two but getting second place. It’s every goal you almost score, every relationship you almost have, and every flight you almost make but are a minute too late. We tell ourselves that if only we kicked a little harder or waited a little longer or packed our suitcase a little faster, then maybe these moments would be more than “almosts.” But is it possible that sometimes almost actually is enough?
The thing with asymptotes is that you can change the x value in the function to be any finite number you choose, yet the curve will still never cross it. The curve can only get that much closer. The asymptote is not meant to be crossed or even touched. I think it’s because some lines simply aren’t meant to be crossed. If you ask me, some lines are meant to be so within our grasp that we can see the other side, but we never actually reach them.
Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you kick harder or wait longer or pack your suitcase faster. The only outcome would be you being a little more tired, you waste a little bit more time, and you probably will leave something out of the suitcase because the end result is the same. There is nothing that can be done to prevent these chapters of your life from concluding with anything but a happy ending, because some things aren’t meant to be accomplished – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t meant to be experienced. These outcomes aren’t intended to be avoided; you are supposed to collide with them, head-on, so you can learn something and move on. Every failed attempt is leading you to where you are supposed to be. Nothing is a mistake.
That is why I believe that almost is actually more than enough. Every “almost” is not something that should have happened; it is something that could have happened, but didn’t, and has made all of the difference. Besides, who are we to disagree with math?
‘Thank God for all I missed, because it led me here to this.’ – Darius Rucker, “This”