Pass / fail exam

Because of the holiday travel, I nearly missed my flight today. And that might have resulted in a cascade of problems.

But I didn’t miss my flight. I ended up getting on the plane, and arriving at my destination just fine. It was a sort of pass / fail exam, and in the end I passed it. Which got me thinking about pass / fail exams in general.

So much of life is a pass/fail exam, isn’t it? You either catch the plane or you don’t, metaphorically speaking. The difference in your actions can be slight (or in some cases non-existent), but the consequences of passing or failing can be enormous.

I think we instinctively understand this. At certain moments of our lives, we push ourselves to get over a finish line, knowing that getting to the other side of that finish line is the entire battle. We don’t always try for the “best possible” performance, but rather for the one that will allow us to keep going.

But what about life itself? Isn’t that the ultimate pass / fail exam? Some people emight say that in this particular game, you always fail in the end. After all, no matter what you do, sooner or later the Grim Reaper wins.

But maybe maybe this is one case where you get a passing grade just by showing up for the test. :-)

One Response to “Pass / fail exam”

  1. Sharon says:

    Maybe it’s just me being perverse, but I often think about how it isn’t always obvious what is passing and what is failing. Because I failed to get a particular job offer when I decided to leave the research lab, I ended up working at Google. I imagine at least one or two people missed their flights on the planes that crashed on 9/11, or didn’t go into work at the World Trade Center that day because they were sick, etc. I guess it is that old Chinese farmer parable (

    My daughter went through a phase where she loved playing an online game called Robot Unicorn Attack. It had the slogan “You will fail!” (with happy music and rainbows and unicorns). She played it with great glee. :)

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