When do you give up? When do you decide that the effort just isn’t worth it anymore, that you’ve wasted enough time, that you should cut your losses and move on?
I’ve struggled with writing for some time now, beaten back by fatigue, depression, and that damned autocorrect. Occasionally I think to myself – hey, why not just give it up? You’ve given it your best try. You’ve sent things out, you’ve been rebuffed and rewarded about equally – surely that’s enough for now.
I’ve given up other things. Big things. Once I gave up my marriage. Other times I’ve given up friends, romances, volunteer responsibilities, pets, even tickets to an Elton John/Billy Joel concert (though I was glad I gave them to one of my best friends ever).
I’ve got a virtual room full of hangers-on that demand I give them up and move on – odd dust bunnies of objects, a piece of my heart, chunks of things I love but realize aren’t good for me, like far too much chocolate…
And yet there are other things I stick with. I am going to the gym three times a week, despite the exhaustion this causes my MS and despite the lack of any recognizable change in my form. I follow religion in my own wobbly way, despite questions and the everlasting silence from above (which is, I suppose, better than malevolent laughter). I’m persisting in learning to play the ukulele, in learning to felt and knit and make things. I keep on trying to write, even when it doesn’t come.
This week I started to wonder why I continue to work at some things, and not others, and I think it comes down to this – I persist with the things that make me feel better inside. The things that fit with my inner ethical self, my inner creative self, the self I think I am supposed to be. The things that seem congruent.
When I left my marriage, I left because I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be. It wasn’t so much about my ex as it was about how I behaved when I was with him. The other things I’ve left for similar reasons. I didn’t like who they made me be.
I continue to write because I see the world better when I write – I am more observant as I seek words to describe my environment, I treasure others’ writing more, I wallow in words. I feel more interesting, diverse, mentally strong.
I exercise because my lungs feel open, my back is straighter, my joints move more smoothly. And even though I have to stagger off the machines as my MS makes its presence noted, for a few moments I feel normal again.
I guess, as I grow up, I am trying to fit things into the internal picture I have of myself at my best. I’m not there yet. I still have bumpy protuberances poking out of my ethical self, my self self. I still have some pruning and shaping to do.
But I’m not pruning the writing. The truth is in there. Or under there. Somewhere.
PS: CL – I’m not giving up on you. Ever.