My apologies for not writing in quite some time.
I’m still not in a position to talk at length about what went on last week – the U.S. legal system is a challenge, at best. But soon things will hopefully reach a conclusion, and then I can go into further detail.
For now though, I want to write about effort.
Sometimes life takes lots of effort.
Effort: exertion of mental or physical power; an earnest of strenuous attempt; something done by exertion of hard work (dictionary.reference.com)
As a kid, you could be recognized for effort – that highly sought after gold foil star right next to your A- on that math test with all the partial credit gained for showing many a “good attempt.” But as adults, we need to exert energy and effort towards things without the incentive of a gold star or the encouraging comments of teachers. Sometimes we need to push through even when that extra ounce of push is the last thing we want to do.
I’ve been told that the final stretch is the most difficult – that last quarter mile in your marathon, the remaining details a week before your wedding, the last half a dozen PowerPoint slides for your end of the year presentation to your boss, the final draft of your novel.
It’s probably because throughout the journey of getting from the beginning to the end there is:
– a lack of closure/finality
– lots of work to do
– a need for perpetual motion; a lack of rest
And sometimes, we’re not even sure what the end result will look like. Will our efforts/work/energy spent be worthwhile once all is said and done? Rarely is there a concrete answer.
Plus, it’s not as though task completion is straightforward.
I mean, my to-do list says all the discrete steps it takes to plan a St. Patrick’s Day dinner (pick out a recipe, buy the ingredients, decide on a cooking/prep timeline, cook the food, serve/eat the food, pack leftovers into the freezer), but those steps don’t account for the myriad of external factors that could impact the entire process from conception to execution. For instance, last year when I cooked a corned beef in my crockpot for St. Patrick’s Day, I hadn’t stopped to consider how difficult it would be to find corned beef seasoning in Texas, where there is a limited Irish population (and ultimately I wasn’t able to find a ready-made version of the spices, I had to Jerry-rig my own).
Sometimes a little flexibility and creativity are required to make it from A to B, and that alone can certainly require more effort.
So when we’re down in the trenches of our journey (or journeys, as rarely is someone only in pursuit of one end result at a given time), how do we maintain forward movement when so many things are out of our control, or somehow intervening?
I wish I knew the secret to sustained self-encouragement – sometimes mine can often be found in the dessert section (cupcakes and cookies, please) or in a solid Rock playlist (ACDC, Boston, Journey, etc.) – but I think what I’m finding is that, even though I may feel as though I’m traveling alone on the way to some end-goal, I am actually bringing those closest to me along for the ride (willingly, or not).
For instance, when I was severely injured a few years ago (more on that in the near future; re: aforementioned legal stuff), while I was acutely aware of my own feelings/perspective/to-do list, I was often less aware of that of my closest friends, mentors and family who adopted the situation into their lives as well. Those who were there for me in the hospital, helped me through recovery, and continually provide support while I deal with the aftermath. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that if not for that community of folks, I would not be where I am today. And I am so grateful to them all; so very, very, very grateful.
But life continues on, and my day to day is largely just me making decisions and moving forward as only I know how.
Some mornings it takes effort just to get out of bed and show up for life. Effort to put on clothing, concentrate on work, participate in dance class, be available to Dan, my friends and family, and just exist.
I’m not sure where I get the energy, because sometimes I am exhausted and this last stretch to the end appears to be as challenging as everything leading up to it. But I imagine reaching deep down inside my self, down to the quarks, electrons and protons that make up the atoms that make me a living being, and giving them a gentle nudge: “please don’t give up just yet; we just need to keep going for a little bit longer.”
And another thing I try to remember is that: it’s often not important that we only made an A- instead of an A+, what’s important is that we made it to the end; we completed our goal, our task. We lived another day, dreamed another dream, achieved another accomplishment, furthered another relationship.
Sometimes the most anyone can ask is just to keep moving…keep moving…