Friday, April 27, 2012
Larry’s been out of school for twenty years. He told me the last class he remembers was his PE class two days before he graduated from high school. You can imagine the adjustment. Larry was struggling with, English 101. Larry had to write composition after composition and it was weighing him down. As Larry told this story, I shared my philosophy of writing. I believe that writing is like any other process in our lives. It requires dedication and practice. I usually write for thirty to forty minutes each day. Some days I just don't feel like writing but I do it anyway. Larry looked at me and said: "Well you are a really good writer."
"Uh-oh," I thought. "Here comes the moment that involves the plastic smile and a modest thank you."
I was quite surprised, however. My reaction was genuine and sincere. I felt very calm, very peaceful, very focused; as if Larry's recognition validated many things I have been working towards. My” thank you” to Larry was a sincere one. I have a hard time accepting sincere and genuine thanks and praise. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I was raised in an environment that taught me to ferret out every bit of good and positive achievement and offer it up for some souls languishing in an alleged place between heaven and hell. Never mind that I was good at what I did, that was not the point. The point was that people who took credit for what they did were guilty of false pride and arrogance. I have to practice what I preach. I have to work very hard to live my mantra: "I am worth all the effort I put into myself." My confident acceptance was a validation of that effort and hard work.
How many of you, feel you’re overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy because of something terrible you did earlier in your life? How many of you feel that no matter how hard you try you are never going to achieve and accomplish the things you really want to because unfortunately, you are just one of those people who's not supposed to get what they deserve? I am not proud of it, but I was one of those people. There was no sense, and there was no use in trying to improve myself because I just had the odds stacked against me. "Pity, party of one, your table is now available."
So often, people would genuinely complement me for something I had done well. My face would flush, my heart would beat rapidly, and I'd find some words to discount or negate the complement. After all, if they only knew all the mistakes I had made my life and all the attempts I had made to reach my goals, only to fail they wouldn't be heeping all this praise on me. That's a tough way to live your life. You work very hard, and truth be told you probably don't fail anymore or any less than any other person; it's just that your successes are so far and few between that you never seem to notice them.
Whether it's health and fitness, whether it's writing, knitting, hitting a golf ball or running a marathon if you don't believe you are worth all the effort you put in to your activity no matter how much you tangibly accomplish deep down inside you will never feel as if you were successful. My” thank you” to Larry yesterday was heartfelt and sincere and just between us friends it felt really good. I enjoy writing and I believe I write well. I am proud of my writing and I enjoy sharing it with other people. My writing in many respects may be considered my way of "paying things forward." There's no arrogance and conceit in what I say. My “thank you” to Larry was simply a beginning. That's where it all starts. I have a choice to build on that strong feeling or to simply replaying my mind repeatedly and let it wither on the vine.
What about you? What do you do well and how long have you kept the wonderful talents and amazing things you have to share a secret? You and I have heard repeatedly that a good house is built on a strong foundation. My health, my fitness, my overall sense of well-being doesn't come from a lot of self-discipline but from the pure, clear fountain deep inside my soul that tells me I'm worth all the effort I put into my success, and so are you. Some days it seems that the harder we work the further behind we get and then we have that moment when a Larry looks across the table and tells us something we know is true.
If I can do one thing really well then there's no limit to the things I can accomplish when I believe I am worth all the effort I put into myself. You see, my "thank you" was really just the beginning.