Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Doing Difficult

I've been thinking about DIFFICULT today. So many times we choose to forgo something we think is difficult to do. I do this all the time. It's difficult for me to bite the bullet and send my books out to publishers. So I have a backlog of FOURTEEN books in various stages of readiness to publish and a husband who doesn't think I'm a writer because I haven't published anything but one book, and that one struggles because of my decision on which publisher to use.

It's difficult to keep my house clean while I'm trying to pump out 50,000 words this month, so I let things slide and the house starts looking like the Clampetts live here. There are smudge marks on the doors and cupboards. My fridge is full of schmutz--a perfect germ haven. There was once a vacuuming and loads of dust bunnies emigrated to the book shelves.

It's difficult to talk to the people I love, so I just don't. I let things stew and simmer until they're boiling over and spreading goop all over the floor. Opportunities disappear, appointments go out the window, and our children grow up like they were raised by wolves. And then the others get lax too, and pretty soon I have no idea what's in the hearts and minds of anybody around me. Lonely!

It's difficult to clean out the shed and walk-in because of triple digit heat and the chewing out when the MAN gets home (he complains that he can't find his stuff in my carefully labelled boxes) so it's impossible to find anything or climb in there (you have to know how to chimney) or go camping with any speed. We've even had to do battle with two hives of bees and countless wasps because of the state of the shed.

All of these things involve choices and the payments for those choices (ie. consequences). What many people don't understand is that there are consequences for the things they choose to do, and those choices are cumulative. If a person chooses to vote for a certain person, they are, in a sense, responsible for some of the things that person does. I won't get into politics more than that.

When I think of people I greatly admire, it's those people who have done difficult things. Edward Pistorius was in the 2012 Olympics as a sprinter. Olympic-level sprinting is incredibly hard even with two sound legs. Pistorius has to run on blades. He ran in several sprints, even into the semi-finals. He was on his country's relay team...with stumps for legs. He's a beast, as my kids would say.

I've related in a previous post about the movie, Touching the Void which is done from a 1988 book by Joe Simpson, recounting his and Simon Yates' disastrous and nearly fatal climb of Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Andes in 1985. Simpson ended up climbing most of the way down that mountain with a broken leg. His friend had given him up for dead. Simpson had to make continuous choices to grasp life instead of lying back and caving to oblivion. He has my undying respect.

One of the leaders of my church once wrote that he never remembered his mother raising her voice. When I read that, I harked back to all the yelling I have done. How could she have gone his whole life without yelling once at her son? That idea amazes me. But each scenario, each annoyance or bad choice on his part she greeted with a choice of her own. She chose to meet his poor decisions and mistakes with grace and understanding. To me, that would be almost as difficult as climbing on a broken leg.

Many people have felt they've gotten away with ducking consequences for their actions. That simply isn't true. Even if it's unapparent on the outside that you've made poor decisions, those choices in the inside form who you are. You are making a groove with each choice you make. We all are. If we choose to repeat that action, the groove gets deeper. It becomes a habit and then an addiction.

We can whine and holler until our eyeballs fall out, but we're still the one who dug that ditch so deeply that we have a terrible time getting out. It was our own actions and choices that brought us heartache and misery, to a great extent. We made each decision to carve the rut deeper, or to hop out of that ditch and strike out on a different course. 

When I was small, I lived in a town, which had a little ski area right in town. I learned to ski on Calico Hill. It boasted two rope tows, one for the little hill and one for the big one. A rope tow is wound in a set of giant pulleys. When you want to go up the hill, you situate yourself correctly (or risk face planting in front of your jeering friends), grab tightly to the rope, and it pulls you as far up the hill as you can hold on.

As the day grows later, usually it cools off and the snow gets icy. The rope tows also get icy. But also the ruts get deeper. You'd better hope you get into the right ruts as the day wains, or you'll find yourself plowing into the ice with your nearly frozen face. Not fun. Or, you might hope you can do a standing jump in your skis. Not easy or fun. Either way, the rut you have carved all day will guide you where you'll go.

Even if the difficulties are not our fault, we can decide how we will think and act. One of my favorite books is by Corrie Ten Boom, called THE HIDING PLACE. She and her sister were incarcerated in a concentration camp because of their choice as Christians to help people escape from Nazi Germany. While in that camp they could have bowed to the incredibly hideous odds--something most people did in there. Corrie and her sister chose not to. They made their minds up to do the best they could. And they did it.

I've been reading a wonderful book by a gifted, successful, and insightful man named James A. Owen, called DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS. It's all about the choices he's made and the forthcoming consequences he's suffered or enjoyed. He says in his book, "If you want to do something badly enough, you will. And people will help you. And if there's something you don't want to do, nobody will be able to help you."

It's all cumulative choices and decisions, weaving and interweaving to make a grand tapestry of life. You are the weaver. You are the doer of deeds. You can do difficult things. I can carry off those things which I never thought I could. I just have to make the decision to start, and then proceed to the finish.


  1. Hi, I was visiting looking for your Sweet Saturday Sample and wandered down to this entry. Your mention of all your manuscripts and only one published and how it is struggling made me curious.

    I began my published author experience with a run in with a company who took my novella, overpriced it (my opinion), and didn't help much with promotion or anything else. In the end, I waited out the remaining contract and republished the book years later by myself.

    I am rambling on about all of this because I am hopeful that you are not giving up on your publishing dreams. I have learned a bit as I went around the block. Let me know if I can help. :)

    Whatever you do, don't give up. :)

  2. I'm so glad to welcome you to this blog!
    Also, thank you for your sentiments. No, I am not giving up. In fact, I have one book in submission right now. I'd be doing further re-writes on the sci fi series but this month is Nanowrimo, so I'm currently writing another book, my 15th. After I finish LETTERS FOR STEPS I'll go back and finish re-writes for WATCHER AT THE GATES OF DAY. It needs to see the light of day...;o)
    Your friendship is a great help!

  3. And it was the fastest rope tow around, guaranteed to rip your gloves of if you were not careful. It's a wonder we all survived skiing there.


  4. True that, Dave. I remember trying to hold on after the rope was lifting me off the ground. After a point you just kept slipping down the rope 'cause you couldn't hold on tight enough to negate all the ice in the rope. I hated that part. I rarely could get high enough.
    It was all good riding the chairlift, though. I remember that time we and Steve went to Purgatory and I fell down that tree well when we were trying to get the last run in by skiing through the trees. You dolts just laughed and kept skiing. I never got so many pine needles in my mouth from laughing again.