All day I thought about making a post, and then it comes to 7:38 in the evening and I realize I’m in danger of not doing it.
That has to stop. That’s the encapsulation of any and all New Year’s resolutions that I have. That sort of thing has to stop. If I think all day about making a post, I damn well need to do it.
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Of course by now, having let things slide for far too long, i can’t remember any of the things I wanted to write. That normally would then become the excuse for inaction. “Owell, I forgot, I guess I’ll do it later.” Wash, rinse, repeat.
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My alma mater went out yesterday and played a hell of a football game. They lost. But they did not lose by failing to live up to their potential; they maximized their potential and they lost anyway. Funny thing, this makes the loss something that I feel proud for them for.
All of this is a bunch of old truism, i.e. there’s no shame in loss if you do your best, but I think people often lose the latter part and shorten it to “there’s no shame in loss,” which is incomplete. Or they take “do your best” to actually and secretly mean “intended to do your best and really ‘put your heart into it.'”
That’s not right either.
Heart isn’t worthless, exactly, but it’s not the key piece of the puzzle. Your best is that which matches your potential. Doing your best isn’t a matter of intent, and it’s not a matter of heart. It’s a matter of hard work and long preparation and discipline and sacrifice. If you have done all of those things, haven’t cut a corner, haven’t phoned it in on this day or that, have legitimately kept your promises to yourself and to others and grown through every last ounce of hard work that you can commit and then you lose—then, and only then is there no shame in it.
Indeed, there’s much pride in it.
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It sounds just a little bit maudlin and high school to be telling football stories and using phrases like “your best” on a blog post when I’m a forty-something, but I’m legitimately inspired by and trying to learn from these guys to start the new year.
Because I grew up in modern America. Every blow is softened. For every erstwhile unsafety there is a safety net. I didn’t join the military and go to boot camp. I didn’t play football for my school. I didn’t ever have to work hard. I had a decent brain through no fault of my own and as a result have been able to skate by and outperform peers since fifth grade without having to do much of anything.
But now, pivoting toward fifty and having used many big and flowery words with the serious and intelligent people and communities of the world, it all seems worthless.
Plain talk. Plain thinking. That’s what I’m after.
And in plain words I have the more-than-nagging-feeling that I could have been, and could still be, so much more than I am.
And there is shame in that kind of loss, and I feel it.
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So my resolution for the new year is to be harder on myself, not in that self-indulgent way, but in that drill sergeant way.
I will fail, possibly for a long time. I have no model for nor practice in this kind of thing.
But I am determined to do my best.
One small step toward that is actually turning up to make the post I thought off and on about all day, even if I forgot what I was going to say, rather than kicking it to an eternal tomorrow.
Let’s fucking get some things together, team.