Thursday, February 23, 2006


I failed today. Just another failure in a long string of failures, some small, some large. This just happens to be one that comes at the last hurtle of a long race for me. A stumble that sets the finishing line just a bit farther away, much to the disappointment of myself and loved ones. In my mind, now, I feel as though I am an abnormality. I feel deficient compared to some I know and many I see in day-to-day life. This particular race has taken me much longer than most and in that sense I feel like a charity case to be pitied. As I look back, there have been so many things that have gone wrong on the road to this goal. Apathy, depression, procrastination, disillusionment, frustration, distractions, wondering, the list could go on.

I’m not writing this, however, as a work of self-depravation; rather, as an article of hope. I have never been one to wallow in misery and I don’t want to come off that way now. This is merely an assertion, to my family, to my friends, and perhaps even to myself, that the struggle isn’t over yet for me. I am not one to give up.

If you were to ask a mountain climber, who had just come back from a failed attempt to summit Everest, would he try again? Despite the time and energy, cost and hardships, the work and suffering (not just for him but his loved ones as well) I would bet you that person would say “yes” every time. Why? Because, this person isn’t doing it for anything or anyone but themselves. They are doing it to complete a goal they had set for themselves. I am much like that person.

When I was eleven, still in Cub Scouts and unprepared for the hard trials a long hike could dish out, I went on a fifty mile backpacking trip with my father and a group of older boys. This was actually my first backpacking trip, a tall order for someone so young. I remember my father got me a kid sized external frame pack and I hiked the first two days in an old pair of sneakers.

On the morning of the third day my mother met us on a road that intersected the trail. She had come to pick up any boys that wanted to go home before the next three days of grueling trail. Some of the younger boys (thirteen to fifteen year olds) decided to leave. When my mother took me aside she asked me if I wanted to go too. She said that there was no shame in it because other boys were going to leave also. There was never a doubt in my mind. I told her I wanted to finish. She walked to the car and came back with a small brown box that contained my first set of hiking boots.

The next few days were hell for me. We encountered rain and cold followed by sleet on the fourth night. I cried one day, as I hiked, because my body was pained to move and I was frustrated with myself for being so weak. I remember being so exhausted that one night I couldn’t eat. I just lay in my tent feeling beaten and anguished.

On the fifth day, in the early afternoon, I walked down to the parking lot where a van was waiting to take us home. There was no celebration or awards only the personal knowledge that you had done it. I had help, of coarse, not just from my father but also from the other adults with me. I held up the rear of the group most days and slowed everything down. But I did it. I finished in spite of physical and mental stress. This has been a metaphor for most of my life.

I rely on those around me for help when I need it and the ones who really care have been there for me time and time again. I am embarrassed that this particular goal has taken me so long to complete especially compared to others, yet I will persist. Not for anything but the knowledge that I could. Maybe I was wrong to use the analogy of a race. To me this is more like a solo run. I don’t care what others think or say. I certainly don’t care how long it should take. For me this goal will be about how long it did take.



Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of the recent failure but NaNa and I are sure you will make it to the finish line. Sorry I couldn't send Laura a valentine but I couldn't work the e-mail thing. NaNa got her birthday card and loved it. Congrats to Laura on her new job.I hope you have a safe trip to Reno. NaNa and Pa.

Da Beef said...

You don't only make errs in judgement. Thes are the tools from which we learn and strive to better ourselves.

Yes...I just said tool!

super_spam said...

The low points definetly make the eventual triumph more sweet! Persevere!

You forgot to mention the 20 lb brass shoe horn you were carrying in your pack during that hike. Something to think about: Are you carrying any shoehorns right now that might be slowing your progress? Shoehorns or no shoehorns, I trust you will make your goals just as you have in the past.

Thousandlegs said...

Hey man, keep your chin up. I'm sure that you realize that there are several cliches that fit this situation and anything that is easy isn't really worth doing. Basically, nothing that you can really FEEL something about or know that there has been an accomplishment, comes without a struggle. Your analagy of the race does fit. The athletes are competing against one another but not so much as against themeselves.

Your New Sleeping Aid said...

You are too smart to let this beat you. And your attitude is already that of a winners. Just remember, Galt wouldn't quit.

Hey. I we better not lose touch just cause you are moving to the dessert. Call me!