The best of life requires effort.
Rarely do we stumble over greatness in our lope across the prairie. Chocolate, friendship, communities, and humans take time, pressure, and sweat to transform base elements to art and life.
We know this. Why does it still catch us by surprise?
Recently, I worked on something which summoned my greatest self-doubt. I didn’t want to do it and hoped for an “out.”
Starting this task meant committing to hours of organizing, sums and figures; and uneasy learning. I needed to explain another’s decision-making with certitude, account for multiple streams of payment, credit, and returns regarding an exhibit-related construction project, and submit for approval an accounting which was all legit and confusing.
It kept me up at night.
Fortunately, I remembered as a researcher, I needed only to approach the problem as a solid field trial. Though the work was done unenthusiastically, imperfectly, and slowly, it ended in “Looks great!” This was such a relief I almost cried. It felt good.
Unexpectedly, the experience challenged me and my Whys.
Why did I hate getting started?
Why do I see myself as not smart enough with numbers?
Why didn’t the accounting genie billow from my coffee and shave hours of hard work?
So many whys.
If I am honest and risk jerkiness, experience has proven I am good at learning and incorporating old skills with new ideas towards resourceful and accurate ends. When I miss the mark, I admit it, ask for help, and look for ways to right the work.
When IQ tested as a child and adult, the most significant revealed strengths consistently related to numbers, spatial cohesion, and memory. I don’t see myself as a number person or human Google Maps. Far from it.
As a kid, I made hundreds of perspective drawings, measured and field-tested ideas, created cosmological theories, and explored elemental physics – particularly of light and sound. Archaeology made me happy. High school happened and so many of those strengths faded into mist.
Since Saturday, I’ve hiked three times, walked two hilly hours with Katie, yoga’d once, and ran this morning. I feel great: physically and heart-fully. I’ve explored and sweated, having run through daylight and darkness.
After running and planking, I smelled like a goat and didn’t care. Joy of running and playing all weekend in such good company was worth the funkishness. Today, I wondered Why I believed it is better to pretend to be less strong, capable, and exuberant? What convinced me and other women to doubt the congruence of our strength and femininity? Why did we see benefit and buy into this defeat?
As I wonder about these deeper Whys, a new challenge emerges; questions needing answers:
Why do we choose our careers and personas?
Why do we believe in this or that?
What lies beneath the first and easy answers of Why?
Will honest answers require changes?
Are we willing to truthfully answer Why (and “now what”)?
Perhaps the first act of derring-do is asking Why? and then Why not? and Why? again much like a toddler incessantly asks when developing autonomous sense of the world.
And the second and greatest demonstrations of derring do? Courage, audacity, valor, and daring action; to act on the truest answers we find in our Whys…come what may. We may study towards a second act. Risk disappointment or failure. Learn something new and uncomfortable. Let go of something dear…like the life we had planned.
Go. Be brave. Ask your deeper Whys. Wrestle in the answering. Live your short life well.