My head is exploding with internal chatter. Thoughts swirling around in a whirlwind. A hundred men racing to a finish line. Crowds shouting. I look around. I’m lying on my bed, tears streaming down my face. Arms heavy. I each for my phone. Not to call anyone. No. I just want to mindlessly scroll through Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages. Let me read about everyone else’s wonderful successes. Then I put down the phone and think, “Why am I not dead yet?”
An explosion of light – in my head – just literally pushes me off the bed. I get up, go for my watering can and start to wet my plants. Then I’m struck with the thought, quitting is hard work.
How many times have you felt like giving up and didn’t? How many times have you felt like you were on your last breath, everything was just too much, yet, you’re reading this? You’re still here. It’s not so easy to give up, is it?
Like me, I’m sure you’ve read a bunch of the “don’t give up/never quit” platitudes. A few of my favourites, ‘Success is just around the corner’, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.’ Then there’s the one about the man who bought some acreage of land to dig for gold. He dug for years, finally he gave up and sold the land. The new owner continued digging and just two inches deeper from where the previous owner stopped, he struck gold. The moral of the story, once again, don’t give up, success is ‘just around the corner,’ or in this instance two inches further.
Quitting is hard work!
Don’t mistake me. I’m not being cynical. But maybe quitting has been getting a bad rap. Just think about what it takes to reach the point of giving up. The mental anguish. The hours and days of tears. The endless sleepless nights. The questioning yourself, your beliefs, your decision making. Battling the fear when you see money depleting and the bill tray growing, overflowing. Just thinking about it makes you break out in a sweat. Yet, you’re still here. Oh, you may say, “But I’m barely hanging on. I’m so tired” And I’ll say, you’re hanging on, because you’ve built muscle and you’re tired because, quitting is hard work!
Let’s segue a moment to the human anatomy. Think about the fact that we breathe and swallow through the same channel. The food you need to survive threatens your very existence with each mouthful. You don’t even realise you’re on the verge of death until you choke. Life and death on the same path. So it is, with success and failure, they travel the same road and quitting and winning use the same muscle.
If you’re choking, a fit of coughing and a glass of water may set you right, only rarely, if ever, is the Heimlich maneuver required. Another time, just a good thump on the back would suffice. Think of quitting the same way. Is it a pick yourself up and dust yourself off kind of quitting? Or is it a stay down, check yourself and change direction kind of quitting? It’ll hurt and bring discomfort either way.
Here’s the thing about quitting though, you can only do it after you’ve started. And, I daresay, if you reach the point where you can quit, unless you’re dead, you can continue. If you’ve gotten to the point of quitting, you’re exhausted because you’ve been building muscle to finish. You may even discover that the finish line is not where you first thought it was.
For me, the lesson is the paradox of our human existence. There is no life without death. The shadow is made possible only with light. Success is always coupled with failure. And the hard work of quitting may just bring you clarity.