Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stuck in a Wall

Every week day at 10:43am I hear the faint sound of an alarm going off inside my office. It’s stuck in the wall. Two years ago my office was the end of our formal conference room, but since they needed more office space they put a wall up to divide the conference room in two, and one half of it is now my office. The construction was shoddy, the walls are thin, and some of them don’t even extend up to the ceiling properly. I suspect that someone’s watch came off during construction and made its way into the wall.

When I was in high school I worked during the summers for a summer camp, a western “Ranch”, as a Store Girl. This meant that I ran the gift shops and snack bar for the campers. Our living quarters were on the second story above the shops, but the bathroom was on the first floor next to the supply room where we kept the stock of food. One summer there was a smell. It was a faint smell at fist – like sour milk – but it quickly became more potent as the weeks passed and the summer heat grew (there was no A/C). It got to a point where we were taking 3-minute showers and holding our pee to avoid the stench. Finally, someone came to check it out, and we were told that it was a decaying rat… that couldn’t be retrieved. Surely it could be retrieved, but for whatever reason it wasn’t worth it. Just like the watch in the wall.

This has got me thinking about why people give up on things. Surely, “worth” is only one excuse for giving up. Other excuses include: “because I can’t,” “it’s too hard,” and “I got bored with it.” But when are these really the case, and when are they just excuses?

As a kid, my dad use to tell me that it wasn’t good to lie, not necessarily because it is fundamentally wrong, but because the more you do it, the more you start to believe your lies. My dad was very practical in his parenting, and looking back, I’m happy about that.

How does this fit in? Well, if you make excuses for yourself that aren’t true, and if you do this enough, you may not only sabotage your future efforts, but you also lose a piece of yourself. You start to actually believe you’re weak, and then it’s you who you’ve trapped in a wall.

I’ve been trying really hard lately to be 100% honest with myself – to not make excuses. It’s hard, because at some point I became a victim – I made myself a victim – and I made it okay in my mind to excuse myself. I now realize you can accomplish little by doing this, so I’m on a journey to be genuine to myself and others, and part of that is not making excuses and not lying to myself. I’ll take it one day at a time, and at least on weekdays, I’ll have an alarm to remind me to do so.

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