Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why bother?

It always happens at the same place.

I’ll be chugging along on my near-daily 3.2 mile run (and by “run” I mean slow spastic jog for one minute and walk for three, then repeat) along Alki Avenue when I’ll hit the spot between Marine drive and 56th where I smell the intoxicating scent of Spud’s Fish and Chips frying cod and potatoes. And I’ll slow down and I’ll look ahead of me at the ground I still have to cover. And I’ll think about the rest of my day and how I’ll invariably end up treating myself to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or delicious cheap eats at a happy hour now located a mere block from my home.

And I’ll think, why bother?

I know the odds. They are not in my favor. I’m going to battle my weight and my fitness level my entire life. Genetics are against me, the environment is against me with its numerous chemicals that make me fat and diseased, and quite frankly, my taste buds and enormous appetite are against me. I love to eat and I hate to exercise. So I slow down, I think, why bother? and I contemplate heading for home and stopping to get a Starbucks frappuccino on my way. Because, screw it. Right?

But then I remember how much better I’ve felt since I started working out and eating better. I remember how it saved my life. I remember how good it feels to go shopping and buy a size 6 (or 4 or 8, depending on the brand) instead of just buying what fit. I think of how I can run up the stairs to our apartment without losing my breath (I avoid the elevator like SELF magazine instructs) and how I’ve actually developed a taste for things like quinoa, hummus and kale.

And I turn up my music and keep running (ok, jogging and walking). Because I might battle these last ten pounds my entire life, but it’s better than battling 100 and never having any energy. And though I’d never (ever) wear leggings as pants, it’s nice to have the option.

There’s always a battle for everything we want. And the truth is, some battles we may never win. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them one hell of a fight.

The other night I was texting a good friend who is hoping to break into the film industry. He’s talented, great behind a camera, and driven. Like me, he’s chosen to pursue a path where very few succeed… and where success doesn’t even guarantee wealth, fame, or any huge payoff you’d think you’d get after busting your ass for years for no pay. We were talking about how stupid we are.

“Some days I think to myself, ‘Why couldn’t I have always wanted to be a nurse? A respected job with steady, good pay. WTF?’” I said.

“Right? Or a dentist?” he replied. “My dumb ass won’t even play the lottery because the odds are too low… yeah, good call on the career choice.”

The easiest thing for either of us would be to give up. Technically, I can call it a game and say I’ve succeeded if I want. I’m a copywriter, which means I get paid to write. I’ve been published. I’ve been paid. I’ve been to writers’ conferences; I’ve learned a thing or two. Technically, I wrote a novel and half of a memoir. That’s more than most aspiring writers ever get.

But I won’t give up. Maybe it’s sheer stupidity or my stubborn nature, but I want to see my books make it to print. The journey is ridiculously harrowing and terrible and even if they do make it to the bookshelves, I won’t retire from them or probably even get a new car. Why bother? Because seeing my work completed, whether it means I become a household name or even just gather a tiny group of fans of my writing, will mean everything. So I keep going in anticipation of the satisfaction high. I am quite certain my friend does the same.

Take parking. I’m a decent driver meaning I probably won’t cut you off, go 20 over the speed limit or hit any pedestrians (though I’ve come close). But parking is a bitch. If there are no lines, I will blow it. I will hit the curb and then park so far away from it I’m likely to be sideswiped. I hate backing into spaces and you can just forget about me parallel parking.

Alas, our reserved parking spot at our apartment complex lies at a difficult angle. It’s far easier to get out of the garage if you back the car in. This gave me severe anxiety at first. I cussed, sweated, prayed, and freaked out until I backed it in successfully only to realize I was about 5 inches from the van next to me. I still get nervous and drive around the block if anyone else is around because I hate being watched.

 But over the last week, I’ve noticed backing into the space is almost second nature to me now. I approach the garage, crank the wheel, back it up like a champion and then get out, surprised that no one is around to high five me for this truly trivial accomplishment. Congrats, me. I may pass the drivers’ test they give to 16-year-olds.

I get a similar level of arrogance in yoga class, when I’ve hopped around holding my foot for 45 of the 60 seconds of the pose before I finally steady myself and get into proper tree pose only to look around and see the people next to me who are twice my age twisted like pretzels.

But, though proper parking and yoga poses aren’t quite as difficult as writing books and avoiding obesity, they do give me hope. They show me that all things truly do improve with practice and that I can now handle them because I didn’t give up. It makes me think that, just maybe, I will realize my writing dreams and just stay at my happy weight already if I don’t give up.

Why bother? Because every single good thing in your life is worth fighting for. Everything.


Annie Boreson said...

Terrific! I love this! It is totally inspirational and suddenly my head is in a good space too (although I LOVE Spuds. Of course I could eat deep fried cardboard, but the fish and chips are amazing.) I digress...

Why bother following your dream? Because that's all there is and once we really embrace that notion, there is no stopping us in our running/jogging/walking paths.
Thanks Blue Eyes!

JD said...

Why bother? Because why the F not? Bother because you're still making progress, not matter how slow you think you're moving, point is you're doing it! Keep going, girl! And yeah, that parallel parking takes lots of practice to master!

Laurie Boris said...

Woot! Keep fighting. This is great!

JessicaLee said...

Yes... I must add that Spuds is home to some of the best fish & chips EVER...I've only indulged once, but I think about it daily. Living next to so much good food is difficult!

Lyn said...

Jessica, This is one of your best--inspirational and thought-provoking. And why bother? Because--have you ever seen (as I have) people come to the end of their 80-90 years on earth, never having had a true passion in their whole lives? Never even HAD a dream, let alone pursued it? It's not about the end goal, it's about the journey!

gatordad said...

FYI...your not in "North Idaho" any more. Love the flowers, love The Market and really love Seattle in the summer. You are going to have the summer of a lifetime this year.

Don't miss the hydro races at Seafair!

BTW, I grew that orchid in my back yard...

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. Funny and inspiring! A great combination!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to find that motivation and energy! Care to send some of your awesomeness east?! <3

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