Posts Tagged 'giving up'

Choosing Battle


I enjoy playing and watching sports, particularly basketball and football. I enjoy the skill and competition, though I could live without the macho testosterone driven parts. Nevertheless those moments when things really heat up can be revealing.

I remember watching an NBA game one night where the Timberwolves’ player Kevin Garnett, whom I love, and is a respected battler on the court, found himself facing off against a player on another team (I don’t even remember who it was anymore). Kevin’s unintentional body language in that moment revealed even through a wild swinging punch he threw that he did not want to be engaged in that fight. It was so obvious to anyone tuned in to that sort of thing. But of course he had a reputation and pride to uphold, so he went through the motions.

Character is revealed in the heat of battle. Do we really want to be there, or would a quiet escape suit? Do we push through and do our duty, in spite of the risk and fear?

Examine your internal monolog as you read and think about this. My guess is it’s probably coming from a moral orientation. You see failure to step up to the plate as morally wrong, and a shortcoming.

That can be true, but if we get off of our moral high-horse for a moment, we can also understand that everyone has certain things worth fighting for. We just don’t all have the same ones. Sure, some have a higher predisposition toward fighting, but every man can be a coward if he doesn’t believe in either the cause or his chances of winning, or at least saving face.

It’s too simplistic to view character through the polarized lens of black and white, of you have it or you don’t. Character is more nuanced. What is a person’s character telling him or her is the right thing to do? Amazingly, someone could be doing a thing that we feel is immoral, but is actually consistent with that person’s character and view of the world or situation, and not wrong.

Oh, but it is so hard for us to accept this, because we’re so programmed. And we have our own agenda.





You have to have passion for what you’re doing if you want to be great. If you don’t love it you’ll quit before you get there. This we’ve all been told or read a number of times before.

The struggle we sometimes find ourselves in is when we try to make something great, even though the passion isn’t there. Or, said another way, we struggle trying to invent or re-ignite passion.

It’s a shame that we put this pressure on ourselves. Because passion, by definition, isn’t very controllable. It’s an emotion. It can be modulated to some extent by our actions and mindset. But like most of our emotions, we don’t have direct access to it. Emotions are driven in part by our intellect. We know the situation we are in, and we know how we feel about it. We can observe much of that taking place and understand it academically, but controlling it is a lot to ask. It’s unreliable, at best. Hard to fight our human nature.

The reality is…we sometimes keep trying to find a way through even when the passion isn’t there. This manifests to different degrees I can summarize into three categories:

  1. Apathy – Giving up. No longer trying. One step away from quitting altogether, which could be the right thing to do once one reaches this point.
  2. Mailing/phoning it in – This has most of the appearances of trying, but it’s usually more for the benefit of all the onlookers than anything. Sometimes we do this for a while, waiting/hoping for that spark (spark) of inspiration to strike.
  3. The Struggle – The gallant effort. Continuing to push and work hard, in spite of evidence that it isn’t doing much good. In spite of that dull, nauseating feeling of discontent. The tricky thing is, when we try hard, we usually do get some results. Often it can be enough to keep us engaged for a while. But in the end we usually know the truth.

Without that intangible thing called passion driving us, it’s virtually impossible to do our best for an extended period of time.

And so…things change. Some people experience more of this than others. Some are better at fighting through and ignoring the underlying feelings than others. I would humbly suggest that no matter which side of this you are on, judging what another person is battling  and how it may be manifesting, is probably a misguided waste of emotional energy. Your passion, your common sense, your background of obviousness is unique to you.

When the fuel tank reaches empty, the car can usually still coast for a while, especially when the wind is favorable, but in the end you gotta’ find something new to be passionate about to really get going and get somewhere.

I’m sorry if this is not the answer you may want.



Projects can become quite a burden, even the ones you think you want to do. Something happens when we start one. Often we become invested in the principle of finishing, even though we question whether it’s worthwhile.

When applied to art, it invariably corrupts. Once the scales tip in that direction, it’s virtually impossible to reel it back in without starting over, or taking a different direction.

Lucky or Good

Wrong question.

It’s almost always both.

The first question is, how much good is really needed?

Second is, how do you get started? Nobody ever won a game he wasn’t in.

Third is, will you persist long enough to eventually get lucky?



The Specter of Dating


It’s interesting how many people who are in long-term relationships bring up the foreboding idea of dating as one of their first, or even main, concerns about not being in those relationships any longer. And when they bring it up, most of us quickly agree.

Is dating really that bad, or is the fear more about feeling alone? Regardless it seems like a pretty lame rationalization for staying in a relationship. There may be good reasons, but why does this one come up so often? I submit that if this is one of the first things you think about then you need to take a step back and seriously evaluate what’s going on with you.

Choosing the option that sucks less is not the greatest recipe for a happy and fulfilled life. This thought process leads to the risky area of daring to believe you deserve to be happy, and can be happy. How is your self-esteem?

Nobody ever said being self-aware would be easy.

Layers of Lost


Being lost produces a dreaded feeling of helplessness. We hate/fear that feeling. Thus we rarely will intentionally venture beyond the known. Too bad, because the security provided by standing pat is somewhat of an illusion.

Nevertheless the fear is real to us. The severity depends on how lost one feels he is or could become. A puzzling computer problem may upset you, but once you research it and find the solution you can pretty quickly get back to normal. You could survive an airplane crash somewhere in the Amazon, or just get confused about some turns you took in a big city. In either case there is a systematic process one can execute to find your way. You may not have the competence to make the best choices, and your efforts may not succeed before some other fate befalls you, but you’re probably going to try something, at least until you give up and give in.

Another kind of lost: An addict usually knows he’s addicted, and like the person who is lost in the woods or a city, usually even knows what to do about it. The difficulty arises from not having the will to be able to. He may try a thing or two, but when the results don’t come, or when the pain is too great, the will erodes. It can make cowards of us all.

Not always our fault in a strict sense. Certain dependencies are extremely hard to beat, but even in those cases the bottom line is we just don’t have the will to do it.

It would seem to be so much easier if our problems were based on ignorance, like the aforementioned computer issue. That’s usually the easy layer of lost to solve. The one where we know what is going on, and can’t get out of our own way, is much harder. Our emotional and electro-chemical needs, and the lizard brain protecting us from fear, wreak havoc on our lives. We may keep reading and learning, as if some new information or realization is going to come to light that will finally solve it for us.

The idea that we need more information is outdated. We have a universe of it at our fingertips. By all means learn. Learn as much as you can, but the first step to a true solution is to stop tranquilizing ourselves through seeking more and more information. Yes, finding something interesting, provocative, or soothing can provide momentary emotional relief. That’s fine, for a while. But if you find you’re going in circles, then you’re stuck (a variation on lost I will tackle tomorrow). Eventually moving it off center means applying more will, giving up, or some more radical action that you probably already know is an option.

Writing on the Wall


So much is contained in a picture – a thousand words, as said by acclaimed newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane.

Look at these guys. At the peak of success, among the most successful entertainers/artists in the history of mankind. Yet they were troubled. They had troubled lives that were not rescued by their success. Arguably the success was part of the problem. Even their feelings toward each other were in disrepair. They had been through so much together. The wonder of their youths replaced by cynicism and distrust. Here they are going through the motions, possibly hoping for better times ahead, possibly scheming for the same. Their great partnership, the one that took them so far, was at this point a farce. Purely a business relationship, and no more. Nothing like how it started out.

It’s not so hard to look back at this picture and see it in their eyes. To their credit, they didn’t push on too far after it was over. They might have left a lot of great work out of their (and our) lives. They might have even worked it all out. Who knows? But there’s a good chance it would have only gotten worse. This way, they left a real legacy they can be proud of, and though the intimacy of the relationships were severed, they managed to retain a civility and respect for each other that more genuinely spoke to the underlying care they felt, and that respected the history of what they accomplished as a team.


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