This morning is not starting off well. Well, to be honest, it’s actually just everything that’s been happening for some time finally reaching critical mass, and I think I’m about to become a small and very localized nuclear reaction. Or at least, I want to. I’m not going to. But it’s tempting.
As flaky as it sounds – and it does sound a fair bit flaky, so be warned – every single time Mercury goes retrograde, I develop what my IT buddy refers to as viciously bad “computer karma” only it doesn’t just extend to computers, it includes (evidently) all machines and parts thereof. (Laugh if you will but it’s a soundly documented phenomenon – we’ve been keeping track the last few retrograde cycles. Flaky and absurd, but eerily accurate whether you believe in astrology or not. I don’t, but I’m starting to reconsider.) So far this week, I have popped a key off my Blackberry, which will necessitate replacing the entire keypad at a not-insignificant expense (and it’s an important key, so I really have to have it); I have a crack in my windshield which, while not remotely vision-obscuring or in any way likely to spread, will still prevent me from passing inspection, which I have to get done before the end of the month, so I’ve got to have that fixed; my laptop refuses to do about nine-tenths of the things I need it to do, for reasons which even my IT buddies can’t decipher (nope, no Conficker, we checked)…and various and sundry other very minor things which are not life-altering but nonetheless make each day a trial of patience.
But the worst thing of all, the thing that has me wanting to crawl into bed and never come back out, is that I have managed to break my USB flash drive. This, my friends, is a disaster of epic proportions. Why? Because that’s where I store my writing. ALL of my writing. Every syllable. And pursuant to the news that my IT friend delivered this morning, it’s so broken that it can’t be fixed even long enough to recover the data. There’s considerable doubt whether there is even a chip that can be pulled out and somehow accessed, though we’re not 100% on that so I’m holding by my ever-shortening fingernails to that tiny sliver of hope.
Yes, it’s backed up. Or it was, about six months ago. Why, you ask, would I be so colossally stupid as to go six months without backing up the very essence of my existence? That is an excellent question, and I will answer it as soon as I figure it out myself. Stay tuned, because this one’s got to be good.
A great deal of the important stuff is backed up. What is not backed up includes an entire novel, all of my notes and outlines for said novel, and sketchy plot summaries for about four more. Thankfully, about two weeks ago I printed the novel for my first reader, so it can be retyped. Unfortunately, I have made massive additions since that time (to the tune of about 10,000 to 15,000 words) that are not recoverable. (One of the reasons for that being, of course, that my laptop is not performing Word’s autosaves as directed. Or it’s deleting the files daily, I’m not sure which and it totally doesn’t matter because either way, there’s no autorecovery going on.)
I’m not happy. It’s still sinking in so I’m still in the process of discovering just how not-happy I am. The wages of sin may be death, my friends, but the wages of extreme technical stupidity are overwhelming depression and despair. [Let this be a lesson to you – back up. NOW.] 😦 Because it’s this, on top of the fact that in less than a month, we’re moving my mom back to Oklahoma – which means I won’t see her again for who knows how long – and the fact that I’m currently desperately unhappy with my job, the fact that I’m struggling to keep from gaining weight, forget losing, despite really stellar eating habits and a kick-ass exercise regimen (thank you, perimenopause!) and a stack of medical bills that are currently keeping me awake some at night…oh, and starting through the college application and financial aid process with my elder daughter, and not knowing where my husband will be working or where I’ll be living in a year’s time, assuming we can sell the house because who knows if the market will have rebounded by that time…I’m feeling a bit panicky and desperate.
However, at this moment, as I’m contemplating all the things that keep piling up on my bewildered psyche, I can’t help thinking of something that will make many of you roll your eyes. I keep looking back at this season of the Biggest Loser, one episode in particular. This illustrates why I keep watching the show, despite everything:
On this episode, one of the contestants – Tara, who won something like 70% of the challenges and never once fell below the yellow line to be up for elimination; the woman is a machine and a paragon of determination and grit like I have never seen before – ended up playing target for all the other players except one. The players had the opportunity to add weight to other players’ loads (which would eventually have to be dealt with during a challenge) and every single one of them (except for Helen) elected to target Tara first. Most of them also targeted Helen, but Tara ended up with by far more weight than anyone else. To make matters worse, the other players were particularly poisonous about it, laughing and making jokes about the whole thing and taking enormous satisfaction in the process. I commented to my husband that they were the sort of jokes where you act like you’re joking but you’re really being very catty and mean, but you’re careful to do it in such a way that when someone’s smart enough to call you out for being bitchy, you can act all innocent and hurt and say, “I was only joking!” even though you clearly were not. It was this episode where I became firmly on Tara’s team, because I just hate shit like that. I mean, just be honest about it. Which, BTW, is basically what Tara said.)
Anyway. During the challenge, the players had to pull a 2-ton race car nearly half a mile down the track, and whatever weight had been given to them by other players was added to that car. Tara ended up pulling the car plus 257 pounds. And she kicked everyone else’s scheming ass. She won the challenge by a landslide, despite the fact that she was pulling more weight than anyone else. Why? Because she didn’t quit. (Note: Helen didn’t quit either. She didn’t win, but by God she finished. And she did end up being the Biggest Loser. So there. That’s what people get for being mean.)
Oh, Tara wanted to quit. She was intensely hurt by the fact that she had been a constant target for everyone for weeks because of the fact that she was so strong and seemingly invincible – she’d been bearing up extremely well and letting it roll off, but we all know that eventually that sort of backhanded hostility, however veiled, begins to wear on you – and she contemplated throwing the challenge and weigh-in and just getting sent home. Her partner, Laura, stepped up to the plate and convinced her to stick it out, and in the end Tara won the challenge and many others, and ended up only missing the grand prize and title by 5 pounds. Because she never, ever, gives up, no matter what. Hand her more adversity and (no pun intended) challenges, and she just pours on the effort. She always brings it. She never accepts less than her best and she never gives up on herself. And I’ll be damned if, nine times out of ten, it doesn’t pay off in a big way.
Tara’s sort of my hero, which you’ve probably figured out. There have been a few women on this show who have really touched me and inspired me, and she’s definitely at the top of the list. Not all of them were the winners – in fact, as I think about it, the only one who really was, was Michelle from last season. But all of them share the single characteristic of refusal to give up in the face of what seems like more than they can take.
My problems are pretty small, all things considered, and definitely don’t qualify as “more than I can take”. It’s just that when you pile up a lot of little things, the resulting pile can be as big as if you piled up a few really big things. But I just keep seeing Tara pulling that car. I don’t care how cheesy it sounds – that affected me. The image is just burned into my brain – not her crossing the finish line, but her at the beginning with her head down and her face set and just pulling, pulling, pulling, even though she was light-years behind and didn’t seem to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning and was terribly unhappy because she felt isolated and targeted. She pulled that damned car anyway, with everything she had in her. And it was enough. I can only imagine what it felt like to cross that finish line and realize that, against all odds, she had won.
So, you know, so what if right now my car feels like it weighs a bit more than it should? The wheels are still turning, and it’s not actually more weight than I can successfully pull. It’s not actually the end of the world. I just have to dig in and pull harder.
I can do this. I need to always remember that whatever life hands me, I can deal with it. It might not be particularly easy and there will be days when, to quote Carrie Underwood “I guess I’m gonna have to cry,” but I can deal with it. And the more I deal with, the more I know I can deal with – the more faith I will have in my own strength and capacity for growth and fortitude. I can take the little things and turn them into big lessons…sure I can. It’s sort of what I do. 🙂
I choose what I feel. I choose how I react. And I do not have to choose to be broken, no matter what happens. I can choose that, and if I do it’s my life and my choice, and no one has the right to criticize me for that. But I don’t have to choose it. I can choose to accept it, find ways to deal with it and, if possible, fix it (or at least mitigate the damage) and go on. And eventually, I’ll get that car across the finish line and know that I’m so much more than I ever thought I was. And whether or not I eventually win the race, I’m still a winner for having never stopped pulling.