10/11/12

I am NOT a Quitter . . .

When I wore a younger man's clothes, my parents encouraged my brothers and me to pursue the world with gusto. To commit ourselves to all we could handle. To try, experiment, explore, and develop. It was fantastic parenting in every way.

I think they thought (still do?) that the best way for us to be well-rounded, happy, content individuals (not children, not adults but INDIVIDUALS) would be for us to fill our own plates. The long-term goal, I presume, would be to raise three children who could be functioning members of society with strong, positive personal and professional relationships built on happiness, trust, and commitment. I digress . . .

The three of us grazed indeed. For me it was a buffet of band, chorus, plays, musicals, student council, art classes, French club, Boy Scouts, volunteering, church, etc. I did it all (hell, I even was on the football team in 8th grade (note I said "on the team" versus "played")). If I was so much as curious, I tried it. I stuck with what I loved and let the rest go at the logical conclusion of the activity. Watercolor classes were NOT for me - I don't want to talk about it! I said I don't want to talk about it! Sorry . . .

I saw things through NOT because I was evolved enough, even as a teen, to just naturally "get" the mandate for that. Nope. My parents had a caveat: You. Do. Not. Quit. You honor your commitments, you stand by your pledges, see things through, give it your all, grow, develop, and mature. You have to find the happiness and joy, focus on the positive, work with your fellow participants to make it mutually enjoyable.

I wanted to quit a few times. I didn't enjoy the people I was with or I felt they did not enjoy me. Maybe I disliked the direction of an activity a few times. Certainly I thought I would be happier doing something or being somewhere else. It was not an option. Joe and Sue Amore did not raise a quitter. "You have to learn to enjoy everything about the things you do not fully enjoy," my mother once instructed me.

Fast forward . . . I'm 36. I've lived as much of life (18 years) out of their daily, direct, parental influence as I lived in it. I miss the time and the mentoring sometimes but I'm no longer a child (despite my general demeanor and my almost immediate want for my "Mommy" and/or "Daddy" the minute troubles roll in).

My adult years have been very different than  my childhood. I've quit lots of stuff upon realizing that it/they was truly not good for me nor me for it (booze, drugs, tirelessly and selflessly developing cures for cancer, making AIDS jokes, etc.). I've had lots of time commitments, burdens, and obligations I might have readily quit, walked away from, and otherwise told off.  But I didn't.

I stuck it out. I saw it through. I endured and asked to be endured. I dug deeper and asked for more. I gave everything I could and took what was available. I adopted, adjusted, and accepted. I looked around inside the situation until I found the happiness, upside, and potential. I can honestly say I've come to enjoy everything about a life that I don't fully enjoy. It is the only way.

There has been nothing in my life that I could not rule out as self-destructive, dangerous, or otherwise undesirable (a small percentage of things since I typically take more time before getting myself in to situations) that I could not see through, honor, improve upon and master. My ego is broad and wide. My sense of obligation deep and strong. For me - there is no challenge too great, no burden too awkward, no situation too difficult.

I am not a quitter. But I'm old and self-aware enough, and have stuck enough things out in pursuit of finding the happiness or searched thoroughly enough to know there is no happiness to be found. I'm not a quitter but I'm smart enough to admit that, sometimes, I'm better off handing in my brushes and watercolor paints at the end of one six-week session than just signing up for the next one.