When Choice is Suspended between Perseverance and Abandonment of Effort

For the last little while, it has seemed as though everything I consider doing is too challenging, too time consuming, or simply unrealistic. Some little voice in my head screams thoughts at me throughout the day.

“You can’t get published.” Too challenging.

“You can’t really get to know what your children experience.” Too time consuming.

“You can’t clasp your hands in kurmasana.” Simply unrealistic.

Image result for turtle pose in yoga (For this self-defeating statement, I include a photo to support the voice’s claim.)

The voice has gotten louder over the last little while, maybe due to the onset of the warmer season. The lazy days of summer can become a vehicle for complacency and ennui. It is tempting to join any apathetic and static crew on the beach or at an air conditioned coffee shop. Who doesn’t like the smell of Coppertone or an iced Americano?

Though it seems like every time try to “accept what the universe offers,” I get hung up in feeling as though I am not using my time wisely. Because frankly, I don’t have a limitless amount of “my time” left to either squander away or capitalize on. Time has taken on a whole new framing, not because I’ve been diagnosed with something dire (though there is the real possibility that could happen at any time) or because I’ve been put into a situation where “time is of the essence” (though it would be fantastic to feel urgently needed), but rather because I’m solidly half way done with my life. With equal parts ahead of me and behind me, I’m stuck smack in the center reflecting on what I have “accomplished” and what I still need to do in order to be able to look back and place the judgment of “a life well lived” on the whole experience.

But then there’s that voice in my head yelling “CAN’T!” There are days when it’s hard not to get on board with those conclusions. So what stops me from believing that I CAN get published, understand the experiences of my children, and grabbing my hands behind my contorted body?

Stubbornness.

I hear that voice telling me “CAN’T!” and choose to hear it in a reverse psychology/double dare sort of way. Instead of getting caught up in providing my own set of evidence for CAN’T, I put my energies into proving that voice wrong.

Most of us have those CAN’T voices as part of our daily experience. There are some of us who hear the voices of others–actual human voices–chanting the same CAN’T mantra, making it even easier to accept that there is no overcoming the challenge, the consumption of time, or the reality of the situation.

It is in those moments, on that fence between accomplishment and failure, that we are put to the real test of self.

The voice bellows “CAN’T!” and we are given an opportunity to accept or rebut that summation.

In that fraction of a second, where choice is suspended between perseverance and abandonment of the effort, it is revealed to each of us who we truly are and what we truly want.

Do I want to see my manuscripts on a bookstore shelf in the form of books?

Do I want to know my children through their own life experiences?

Do I want to feel the clasp of my left hand around my right wrist?

If I choose to answer “yes,” I will need to work twice as hard to find success, for I not only need to do the work but also spend additional time tamping down the CAN’T voice. As much as I’d like to think I could extinguish that self-defeating, sometimes mean voice in my head, it’s been there for as long as I can remember. There’s no ridding myself of it. By accepting that this little voice is a part of my experience, I am able to interact with it in a direct and confrontational manner.

“CAN’T!”

Oh yeah? Watch me.

2 thoughts on “When Choice is Suspended between Perseverance and Abandonment of Effort

  1. Sometimes it’s useful to have that little mean voice. We get mad at it, and that spurs us on to overcome it and achieve our goals. Otherwise, it’s just so easy to sit on that beach sipping iced coffee and watching the clouds. The reverse psychology thing, as you said. It’s tricking us into action.

    Liked by 1 person

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