“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ―Molière
The mouse maze would be a lot more manageable with a bird’s-eye view, and those towering peaks in the distance have done a nice job of blocking out the sun. Seeing the path unfold at my feet in inch increments, while tripwires and banana peels snicker at my cautious discretion, has made me wish more than once for the gift of flight.
If I could only elevate to see what’s waiting around that next bend, perhaps I could find comfort in the soft center of the present moment, even temporarily. Just a few precious minutes without the sense of an approaching sandstorm would feel like drops of water on the tongue of a desert wanderer.
But as I attempt to maneuver, jockeying for position among a throng of marathoners, my trusty compass abandons true north, testing my resilience and trying my patience. How many times must I substantiate my intent as the lake freezes, leaving me sliding around in socks instead of skates?
I am defined by my defiance, then and now, and no flash of light or fake whiff of cheese will divert me from finding that finish line.
This mouse is more method than instinct, and the only footsteps to follow are the ones I leave behind.
Waiting with fingers crossed for some giant sweeping, exhilarating event to alter the trajectory of your path is the emotional equivalent of tossing dimes in a fountain and banking on fortuitous returns. Life’s most satisfying moments come less from a sky illuminated by grand finales and more from the snappy pop of firecrackers on a spark-strewn piece of lawn. We gain the most momentum from measured achievement on a carefully plotted timeline, not random rocket rides promising shortcuts to success.
Of course, there are always exceptions. But rolling the dice on a long shot can leave you questioning how all those eggs landed in the same basket. Options have to be more than backup plans and worst-case scenarios. The parachute should be a part of the preparation, as opposed to a quick-grab lifesaving impulse, or you’ll be left standing at the cargo doors, holding the ripcord, and wondering how it all went wrong.
I have been lucky enough lately to celebrate a series of small wins. While no individual event or achievement promises the attainment of endgame goals, the building blocks are finally stacking to form a tower. With better perspective and a less impeded view, I can plot the actions necessary for extended travel down this often rocky road. Small steps, not giant strides. But without a certain degree of fight, the finish line will continue to blend into the distant horizon. Even the best intentions can get lost on a treadmill to nowhere.
So a healthy heap of focus is on the menu, and eliminating distractions is a crucial piece of that winning formula. I’ll suck in the sweet oxygen of life’s little gifts while keeping diligent attention on the next chapter of a constantly unfolding story. Variables are responsible for the biggest letdowns and the biggest rewards.
But it pains me to admit that sometimes it feels like the finish line is also running the race.
Life is a brawl, but some of us have the innate ability to pull ourselves up from the mat, even when every cell in our bodies is screaming at us to stay down. Why do some people reach for that rope while others accept defeat?
This has been a central question throughout my writing, research, and life. I’m endlessly fascinated by survivors and the wiring required to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles with the mentality that failure is an unacceptable option. It’s more than willpower and a strong constitution. The defiance to fall is born from a fire raging deep within the recesses of our memories. It’s fueled by history and circumstance.
I can only speak from personal experience, but low self-esteem and an unrelenting drive to prove myself worthy have combined to transform fragile guts to concrete. My reluctance to bow is propelled by an incessant need to demonstrate inner strength. Spitting in the face of slim odds and disheartening diagnoses became my religion. Of course, there were times when that resolve faltered, but the mentality endured. I credit the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mantra for my health and sense of purpose today.
Is this level of fight something learned? Can people be trained to be survivors or are they only built on the battlefield? Will someone without a difficult past still find the determination needed to break down walls of fear, despair, or hopelessness?
These are questions I will continue to ask in my pursuit of clarity. The human condition and the psychological puppet master pulling the strings are fascinating areas of study. Plus, what’s a day without some wildly complicated topic to obsess about?!