Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Giving Up

Yesterday I passed a t-shirt on a runner that said "never, never, never, give up." The slogan reminded me of a conversation I'd had the day before. I had just found out that two women I knew had "given up" on doing the big races they had signed up for a year in advance--one a double ironman and the other an ironman (projected to take place 10 months or so after her first son was born).

Give up.

Words are so much more powerful and slippery than we think. Those two words, in my mind (and I don't think I'm alone in this), have a pejorative ring to them. As in, she couldn't take the pain, or she wasn't up to the effort, etc...

I don't think they "gave up." The women "decided not to do" their races. A choice is not giving up; certainly not if it makes you happy, or at least happier than the alternative, which might be slogging through a relentlessly long race that you don't want to do, and don't have to do, and that, in the long run, is not about anything except your own desire to participate, or not.

Which brings me back to the t-shirt I saw (and had occasion to ponder during my next couple of loops around the park on my bike)--while I agree that we ought never (never, never) give up on things, that expression is meaningless until we fill in the context and content. Giving up, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We are each our own beholder. We need to make the decisions that are right for us. If someone else labels our choice "giving up," that doesn't make it so. Not by a long shot.

The most important choice we have is to choose to make ourselves happy.

Choose happy!