Jonathan ES Lin
Life · Tech · Faith

Own Goal

Jul 25, 2021

Recently, I heard someone describe his literal own goal during an important football (soccer) match when he was younger. The own goal analogy was very apt in describing how I am feeling right now.

In an own goal scenario, we would want to determine whether there was malice involved. Was it a match fixup? Was there a bribe involved? Realistically, this is very uncommon, because a repeated own goal will draw much suspicion and cause you to be fired from the team. More likely, it was a genuine and hapless mistake.

Going past that, we would want to know how the own goal happened. Was the player genuinely trying to defend but made an inadvertent mistake? Was the player simply not looking and the ball deflected off his body into the goal? Was the game simply a neighborhood football match, or a high stakes golden goal scenario in a World Cup final?

We would like to know so that we can apportion the appropriate blame, or try to make ourselves feel better about the unfortunate situation. Nobody cares about a lower stakes game. But in a high stakes game, the results are etched in stone and irreversible. Millions of fans will be angry and disappointed.

The hapless player whose foot was last to hit the ball before it went into the back of the net, he truly feels like shit. He has let down his team and his fans. He feels like blaming the referee, the goalkeeper, his teammates, but ultimately it was his own foot that hit the ball home into the wrong net.

He reflects on all the possible ways he could have prevented the own goal. He could have stood in a different spot. Or paid closer attention. Or sat out of that game. But there is nothing that he can now do to change the outcome.

How would you have dealt with your own goal? Would you blame others? Would you sulk for weeks in your room? Or would you pick yourself up and move on and forward?

The funny thing is that even if you were given a chance in life to go back in time to fix things, there is an insurmountable momentum that you are fighting against. Ever watch that movie where some people were given the chance to go back in time to change the future? They eventually did it, but it took numerous tries and unintended consequences. The own goal was inevitable, and the whole universe conspired to make it happen.

I managed to score two own goals in 2021 so far, one resulted in a loss of life, and another in a loss of relationship. One was my neglect to do something, and another was my negligence in doing something.

I have replayed these things again and again in my head, and I found that I would not have been able to stop these own goals without knowledge of the future (which is impossible). And even if I had knowledge of the future, it would have been extremely hard to change the trajectory of the future, because of the unstoppable spiraling chain of events.

People tell me to learn lessons from it. Sure, I can try to glean off some lessons. But can these lessons really prevent an own goal in the future? I doubt it. Own goals are own goals. The intention wasn't there, but it happened anyway.

The only consolation I can draw is that these own goals were part of the Plan. It was meant to be. Even if so, it doesn't prevent the feelings of deep sadness and regret.