Wednesday, March 4, 2009
the sum of small victories.
If I had to choose a way to measure my accomplishments, I would measure them out in small victories. If I think hard about what victories I’ve experienced, most of them revolve, not around winning, but around not quitting.
I did not entirely quit trying to learn how to ride a bike, even though no one was able to teach me. When I was 9, I finally learned. I needed to do it on my own time, in my own way. I had a neighbor friend who I played with. He rode his bike a lot. I learned to ride.
I have never quit trying to learn how to swim. Of course I know how to swim. But I have never quit trying to become a better swimmer, and one day, I think I will be able to say that I am a good swimmer. It might not be until I am 50 or 60, but I think it will happen.
I did not quit playing the violin after one year, even though it is what my mother was sure I would do. (I quit after four years, instead. Stupid.)
I did not quit college, even though my freshman year, it is all that I wanted to do. I guess I toyed with the idea of quitting by trying, unconsciously, to almost flunk out. But I managed to get my act together. (I feel uncertain whether this is a small victory or not, because, in my heart of hearts, I know I did not belong at a university when I was 18. I always knew this, but who listens to 18-year-olds? Who thinks an 18-year-old has the presence of mind to make a wise decision?)
I have never quit my relationship, and the older I get, the longer I have been in it (almost 7 married years, and 5 unmarried years!) the more of my friends’ relationships that touch my life, I realize what a feat and gift this really is.
I did not quit grad school the first time around even though I was wholly miserable and unhappy. I knew I was learning something that fit me somehow. I just hadn't figured it all out in the midst.
I did not quit my first triathlon, even though I had an anxiety attack in the water, fell off of my bike, and also dropped my water bottle while riding full speed.
I did not quit my second triathlon, though it took me about 35 minutes to calm myself down, catch my breath and relax so I could do the swim without a repeat of the anxiety attack.
My tendency is toward quitting. I begin a new challenge. I get bored. I get frustrated. I get impatient. I deem that it is not an act I can carry out to perfection (because I am a perfectionist). I want to quit. None of my small victories are extraordinary, but they have added meaning to my life. To who I am. I don't know their sum. Maybe I don't care to know. I hope for infinity of experiences that I choose to finish.
SONG: Boys Don't Cry, The Cure