Dropping out, giving up, quitting. How easy it seems. Less trouble than sticking with the challenge, whatever it may be. But sometimes we not only drop out, we miss out. We miss out on the thing we wanted to do because we were afraid to take it on when it actually came down to doing it. Maybe we worried about failure. Maybe all the scarry “what ifs” took over our thought. So we simply gave up.
Here comes that irritating word again: fear. It would have us avoid difficulties. It would like to cripple us so that we miss what might have been a wonderful, though demanding, experience.
I think of the Olympics which we recently watched. What those athletes take on is far beyond what most would try. It is glorious to see them achieve what seems unachievable. To stretch themselves both figuratively and actually as they prepare to surpass records set previously. I carefully watch the faces of runners and gymnasts. They seem to be somewhere else. Somewhere that gives them the calm and courage to go ahead with what few dare. They work hard for years to develop the skills and stamina necessary. They push themselves to become the best in their field. Why?
I think they do it because they desire good so much. “The best” is the highest form of good. It means unrivaled excellence, the most outstanding, the finest, the greatest. We, too, love good but often are afraid to take on whatever it requires to attain it. It’s too much work, demands are too great, it takes too much time, or we just don’t feel up to it. Often, we stop short of achievement for lack of courage to try.
My husband, a white-water kayaker, comes home with tales of treacherous rapids that could have flipped him under a rock and ripped his head off! Not only that, he takes high school students with him! But time after time, they all survive, gleefully telling their stories.
My son skied black diamonds before he learned how to ski. He went down the Amazon in a canoe. He survived a category 5 hurricane on Grand Cayman Island when it disappeared off the radar. Now he has a job that requires courage every day: managing an entire city.
My daughter, at 19, to further her education when college seemed too expensive, chose to travel alone throughout Europe for three months, with no particular itinerary and limited funds; and with little more than a smattering of French and her own sheer ingenuity to guide her. Now she manages a career as a single mom.
My other son, a talented graphic designer, also has the extraordinary ability to can hundreds of fruits and veggies from his own organic garden and orchard, creating picturesque lattice crust pies, sourdough bread, and almost any gastronomic achievement imaginable. He also gives an abundance of his time volunteering to maintain a coastal national park.
I’d like to add to this, but what? O.k., maybe climbing a 4,000-foot ascent in half a day at age 48–before I was an experienced hiker and didn’t know better. I’m sure I’ve had other challenges, too. I’m sure you have–challenges that required fortitude, increased your self-confidence, commitments you took on rather than dropping out. You know you are better for it.
Some challenges we don’t ask for–they just appear in front of us and we take them on. During World War II, when London was attacked by Nazi bombs and fires devastated homes, ordinary men, women, and children learned to take on giving aid and cleaning up beyond anything they’d ever imagined. They simply rose to the occasion. They did not drop out.
Dropping out of achieving good is not why we’re here; meeting challenges is.
About the Artwork: My last show prior to moving to Maine was “Out of Darkness and into the Light” for which I painted 12 pieces, mostly in mixed media. Turning on the light is the only way to dispel darkness. I did pieces with titles like “Let There Be Light“, “Light Burst,” “There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In,” and the one shown here, “Surviving Dystopia,” which represents London citizens taking on difficult work following a horrific blitz attack during WWII.