Wednesday, April 25, 2012

No Excuses

I was on the treadmill at the office, sweating a little too much and feeling the pain of various aches and pains and dragging from a long sleepless night, and I was feeling great.  I had come to a realization, somewhere about ten minutes into the workout that had - for some reason - escaped me recently.  I had set the machine for forty-five minutes, a normal but not too easy cardio workout before lifting weights and nothing extraordinary.  But once the machine started moving so did my rationalization machine, spewing a torrent of reasons why forty-five minutes was far too much.  I was up all night with a fever and then cold sweats. My legs hurt, and for some reason the bottom of my feet have been hurting the past week.  I need to get back to the office as soon as I can, that project waiting is urgent.  My therapist says I need to take care of myself, rest and take more pain meds and more Xanax to relive anxiety.  And I have cancer for Christ sake, stage IV - and that's really bad.  I should be able to do so much more, anyway, why try so hard to do what seems to be so little. It doesn't really matter. And I deserved a break.  I deserved a pass. I was special.
     That did it, that clicked a trigger in my brain that woke something up inside of me.  The tape loop started playing again, with that weird whirr as the voices and pictures got up to speed. I was suddenly that Marine recruit again at the top of the wall trying to get my leg over the obstacle, face in anguish from impossible pain, drill sergeant screaming in my face all the reasons I was a failure to humanity for not making it over this one obstacle.  I heard the voice of Winston Churchill saying "We do not do this because it easy, we do this because it is hard."  I heard Tyler Durden say "Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing."  I heard that old drill instructor explain "When a Marine quits, he's dead." It's all about this one wall, and it has nothing at all to do with this one wall. This one challenge. This one little workout.
     I could choose not to, I have a fistful of passes that say I do not need to get over this one silly wall.  I'm justified to have those excuses, a lot of important and knowledgable people tell me so.  But that does not change what they are or who I'll become if I use them.  And although mine are pretty good I know others that have better ones but don't use them.  There are people much, much worse off than me who would give a body part to be able to spend forty-five minutes on a treadmill.  Unfortunately, there are those that can only dream of being able to do that before there miserable lives are crushed out like a used cigarette.  There are those that are better than me, that do not even think about plunking down their excuses but get on with life.
     So I took my finger off the down-arrow button on the control screen time setting.  I turned up the speed setting just one notch as punishment for being such a wuss.  I turned the iPod up just a little bit.  I started to focus on the thousands of times I pushed the excuses aside before and got on with it.  The school exams, the job challenges, the military exercises, the bike rides.  This is just another wall to climb, another challenge that will be over before you know it.  And when it is over, that challenge adds just a little something permanent and positive to all that I am.
     And, oh yeah, fuck cancer.