You would be proud of me. I plugged along at work today and then after work, I went to a place with free wi-fi and worked on my paper. Yes, the BIG paper!
This whole dissertation thing is teaching me some incredibly important life lessons. First, even if you think something is impossible for you to achieve, try it and prove yourself a liar. If others have done it, then you can't rightly call it impossible, can you? I remember a long while back telling God, "I want to attempt something that's really hard and DO it!" I recall the burn and ache in my heart when I said it. I don't think I had anything specific in mind when I prayed it. Well, maybe I did, but even if the doing wasn't what I had in mind, I wanted to do SOMETHING that fit that description. I wanted to do something I could call to mind on my deathbed that I could look back with pride and say, "I know what it's like to face a challenge and get through to the other side of it. I was not one who only knows what it's like to quit." I have quit some things that still sting when I think about them. No big deal. Everybody has at least one of them in their closet. I just want to see something beautiful hanging next to it. Something with sweat on it and maybe some scars and scratches. Something hard won. This degree is that to me. The thought of it overwhelms me at times. It has taken working like a dog at a second job and coming home dead tired with aching feet. It has taken out of me what others needed from me.
Still, I have entertained the idea of calling it off. I have made some pretty good arguments for why quitting made logical sense, but my heart won't let me.
I've learned that you get to a point where you've invested too much in a thing to not finish it. Even if the original idea has lost it's luster, it'll dull all the more if you just leave it to die on the side of the road.
Know what else? When you undertake something hard, you don't do it alone. Even if your feet are the only ones moving, others are traveling with you in their hearts. It's the most amazing thing. Humbling, too. You look up and discover people are cheering you on, wanting you to make it, offering help to get you to the finish line. For a girl who often feels it's all up to her, this has been a beautiful discovery. There is a cloud of witnesses that somehow take on the challenge with you and seem delighted to be a part of it. My heart squeezes with something I can't describe when I think of it. It feels like gratitude mixed with awe mixed with the kind of tears that come before you realize it.
One more life lesson: You have to think of mountain climbing in steps. If you look at the whole thing at one time it'll paralyze you, but anybody can do steps. Today as I sat at that table, my goal was to work on just one case study. Whether I finished it out in that sitting or not was not the point. I had an itch that could only be scratched with progress, any sort of progress.
What are you facing today that is too big to look fully in the face? A project at home? Raising a child? Finding a job? Forgiving someone for a big hurt? Peel away at it a layer at a time. You'll get there, and we both can celebrate by planting a flag on Mount It Was Hard, But I Did It.
Are you with me?
See you at the top!