The Day I Almost Gave Up

I remember thinking, “This is it. This is the day I gave up. The day I stop trying forever.”

It was like an out-of-body experience, or some weird flash forward, to a day when I’m old and gray, angry and disappointed with the fate to which I’d resigned myself.

There I was, wrinkled and beaten, slouched down in a shitty lounger, cane in one hand, bad heart, bad liver, pain of life dulled with the ever-present beer at my side and I thought:

I’m telling my kids. Or my nieces. Or my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren.

Today is the day I gave up.

There I was, staring a thousand dollar bill in the face, the result of just one more thing gone wrong out of the blue, right when I thought maybe I could get ahead for once. I’d fallen off writing for weeks, was way behind in my work, in a job I hated, surrounded by people I disliked, or people just as frustrated as me. Punched in the face by yet another sideways injustice, one after the other after the other.

I was a nice guy, right? Smart and generally kind. I didn’t abuse anyone or say mean things. I wasn’t bigoted or hateful. But I wasn’t doing anything either.

I didn’t have what I wanted in life and for the first time, beyond the usual whining, I knew, with utter clarity: I didn’t have what it took to make it.

I knew, without a doubt. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t ever going to succeed at the thing I loved.

I was bound to spend the rest of my life living in two worlds – the one I wanted, but couldn’t have, and the one I had, and couldn’t get away from.

And I gave up.

I stopped.

I said, “I’m done.”

I’m not going to try anymore.

No more writing. No more worlds. No more canon.

Just work, chores, whatever mind-numbing shit I can get to blunt the pain, and sleep.

For the next forty or fifty years, until my heart stops, my liver gives out or senility kicks in.

It felt like a blessing.

Of course, it’s not. Anything worth having is worth the pain of getting it. It’s not getting paralyzed along the way that’s the tricky part, the part with which I struggle.

Motivation is not the issue. It’s connecting action to motivation. It’s bypassing fear to create movement.

I think I’ve been using kaizen wrong.

I need to trigger small changes so miniscule they help me bypass the fear, to condition myself not to go into fight-or-flight when thinking about putting myself out there.

The itty-bittiest little steps.

Because I’m not done. I’ll never be done. If I actually thought that, I’d swallow a shotgun right now.

And if no one wants me, too fucking bad. Here I am. Keep taking punches. Maybe I’ll fall, maybe I’ll just toughen up, but as long as I’m standing, I’m in for the long haul.

Just… maybe not my liver.

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