the optimist and the rickshaw

I have a pretty good support system, but that does not mean that I don’t get discouraged sometimes. The last few months have been especially hard. I have had to make some tough decisions and I don’t like it. I can do it – and I have to do it just like everyone else – but that does not mean I have to like it. Not one bit.

I have lived just long enough to know that we all go through hills and valleys in every aspect of our lives. Right now I have a couple a things down in the valley that I am trying to pull out, but for the most part, everything else is up on the hilltop with a nice view of the future. When I feel like I am pulling a rickshaw filled with crap up a very steep hill in some areas of my life, I can always take a moment to flip over to the other areas where I am having a picnic on top of the world happily surveying my little life kingdom. A bit of that and I can go back to pulling that rickshaw again. Occasionally, something happens and I loose my grasp on the handles and get pulled back down again and have to start climbing all over again. Those times I have a good idea of how Sisyphus felt pushing that rock up hill for all eternity (even with all the pushing, Sisyphus still had it better than Prometheus, so I guess I should count my blessings, eh?). I suppose that in some ways we all have a rock we are pushing or a rickshaw we are pulling.

So tonight I will put down the rickshaw handles and go have a picnic on my little mountain top under the stars with a homemade pizza, a little wine, a movie and some popcorn. Tomorrow I might have to pick them up again – and I may have to do some heaving today – but I know when to change gears and renew myself.

I also have to accept the fact that there may be areas in my life where I will never get that rickshaw completely up that hill and out of that valley. The challenge is having that suspicion and still not giving up – just in case you are wrong and you can actually make it. There have been times in my life where I did not even pick up the handles and try pulling because I never believed I would make it out, so what was the use in even trying? There is some logic in that, I must admit. But what I didn’t realize was that by trying, even with the possibility of never being able to make it, I was bettering myself just through the effort.

I mean, if you are just sitting at the bottom of a hill doing nothing, there is no benefit at all. At least if you are working and trying and giving it all your might, you are getting a work out, honing those muscles, becoming stronger. Even if you don’t make it, you will be a leaner, healthier, and stronger person than the lazy guy sitting on his ass doing nothing. And, let’s face it, the stronger you get the more of a chance you have to make it out. If you’re just sitting there you have no chance at all.

So, do you sit there or do you try anyway, even if it looks as if you will never make it?

The pessimist sees the obstacles and decides to be defeated. The optimist sees the obstacles and tries anyway, just in case he’s wrong when he thinks he will never make it. Which are you?
Originally written January 22, 2010

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