Push Through

The American culture is one of grit. Endurance. Determination. Pushing through pain when you’d love to stop. 

And when you get through all that? Hallelujah! You’re an American! You’ve overcome! Welcome to the rest of your life! 

But what happens when you can’t —

No such thing! 

Uhm, okay. But what happens if you–

Never! 

Yes, but–

NO! Everyone always pushes through and gets it done. 

NO! They don’t! Sometimes you just can’t take it anymore. You have to stop. You have to take a minute and lie down. You have to start over. You have to try again tomorrow. 

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong with that kind of determination? The kind that whispers, “good try. We’re gonna finish this, just not right now.” Isn’t that a beautiful kind of spirit too? Not just slogging through to finish, but to keep going, a little at a time?

Sometimes, I’ll admit it, I just can’t. And so I stop. And I’m ashamed. But I shouldn’t be. Because I’m not being fair to my best self when I keep going. I may win the day when I push through, but at what cost? 

So, I’m not going to be afraid when I take a break. And even more so, I’m going to admit that I actually need one. 

Fully Full

I don’t think anyone would say that they are intentionally ungrateful. I’m not sure I’d have much respect for someone who says, “Yeah, I like my warm bed at night,┬ábut I’m not really living until I can make it vibrate with a touch of a remote,” anyway. But it happens (not the vibrating bed thing, the ungratefulness thing).

We forget how lucky we are to have food on our table, electricity and running water in our houses, and most importantly for some, internet access so that we can talk to the rest of the world. Sometimes we just get caught up in what we should have and we forget about what we do have. Like I said, it happens–and it happens to the best of us.

But why?

I have a theory. You know that half full/half empty/optimist/pessimist glass of water metaphor? Well, I’d like to extend that idea. I think everyone is given a cup when they’re born. We gain and lose a lot of liquid from our cups. The more we give and do for others, the more we drain that cup. And that’s alright.

Unless we don’t leave any for ourselves, any liquid to hydrate with, any warmth to soak up through that cup. That’s when we get frustrated and stressed. That’s when we get a little ungrateful. Because we’re giving and giving, and then we have nothing left. And we can’t see half full/half empty because we see nothing.

Then, when the cups are full, we notice that, too. We notice the weight, we notice the warmth it gives us. We are more likely to be grateful for what we have when we can readily see it.

The problem is then really simple: we need to be grateful when our cups aren’t so full. When we don’t have much left, and what we have left is going to be given away. But how?

Of course,┬áthat’s where I get stuck a lot, and I don’t have all the answers. But I think I figured out a solution: when we have nothing left, when we’re not fully full, we have to be grateful for the cup, which in case you got confused earlier, is quite simply, the fact that you are alive. So, if you have nothing to put in your cup, just be thankful for the fact that someday you will. Because the capacity to be grateful is all you need to be so.