When “Both” Means “Neither”

When I was in elementary school, two of my very favorite events were scheduled for the same Saturday: A Cub Scout campout and a YMCA basketball team end-of-year party at Pizza Hut.

“Camping or Pizza Hut” is a tough choice indeed.

As my father is generous and fun-loving, he asked if I wanted to try to do both. 

Of course I did! Hooray!

So, on the fateful Saturday, we drove to the camp in the morning, set up the tent, hung out through the early afternoon, and then drove 90 minutes back into town for the party.  After I had collected my plastic trophy, we booked it back to our campsite.  By that time, though, most folks had headed to bed.

It was an exhausting day and it turned out that we were out of sync with both events.  We missed out on the camaraderie of the camping trip and we were definitely a little stinky for the party.

The lesson was not lost on us – that in choosing both we actually got to do neither – and has become a helpful conceptual hook in considering similarly tough choices.

When this sort of over-extension creeps into the schedule, we know that it is time to pick just one.

(Hey! This reminds me of a fun and formidable little book by Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ – The Freedom of Missing Out!)