Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Giving up

I personally don't subscribe to the practice of giving up. I am prone to stubbornness and determination (not always good attributes) and usually insist on overcoming challenges when I hit a roadblock.

There are two exceptions to this. They don't come to me by nature. I learned them.

One is when I am reading a boring, poorly written or hopelessly uninteresting book.

I used to believe that once a book was started, you were committed, almost as though you gave birth to it. You absolutely needed to finish the book and could not ever abandon it.

In the wisdom of my advancing years, I now realize this is complete hogwash. I no longer hestitate to close a book, either returning it to the library or, if it's mine, giving it away to someone who might enjoy it. There are just far too many good books out there to waste time on one that isn't interesting to you. It's nothing against the book itself. But for heaven's sake, move on, find one worthy of your time spent reading it. And read for the pure enjoyment of it.

Another similar exception is with a stitching (or knitting) project. One time I was struggling with a piece, wishing it were done or I had never started it. But, since I did, I assumed I was committed to finishing the darn thing.

I asked my sister Edie (an expert stitcher) for advice on a troublesome part of the pattern. Apparently I had a wrinkled frown or something, but she said simply: "If you are not really enjoying it, don't do it. Stitching should bring enjoyment."

What a relief.

I now don't hesitate to ignore a pattern altogether, even if it once looked like one I'd enjoy making and regardless of what I paid for it. Likewise, I no longer hesitate to scrap a project started if I made mistakes or are disappointed with the way it is turning out. I give myself permission to forget about it and start over.

In other words, if a hobby or activity doesn't bring enjoyment, out it goes.

Why does it take so long to learn lessons like this that free your very spirit? All mistakes and disappointments in life should be treated this way. Give yourself permission to give up, forget about it, move on, start over.