Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Motivation and The Grey

In ruminating on July 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I watched The Grey last night. Holy. Wow. I couldn’t bring myself to take the garbage out to the garage after that for fear of the glowing eyes. Or worse, for fear of being pounced on and torn to shreds from behind. True, the worst that could happen to me in my backyard in the city would be a snarl and possibly a nip from an unsuspecting, glowy-eyed raccoon, but still. I wouldn’t even swim in a pool for a good long while after just seeing the previews of Jaws.

I couldn’t get The Grey out of my head all night. The moments of off-the-charts fear of what was lurking in the darkness. The looks of complete terror in the characters’ eyes as they were being attacked. The deep despair of being lost, feeling forgotten, being isolated – made to face the many dreads of the cold, stormy landscape alone and ill-equipped. It seemed those already dead got the better end of the deal.

I wonder if a motivational saying like: Keep Calm and Carry On would have helped these guys?

Or maybe one of these little gems:

We don’t see things the way they are. We see them the way WE are – Talmud.

I have found that if you love life, life will love you back – Arthur Rubinstein.

We must let go of the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us – Joseph Campbell.

Life isn’t a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Chardonnay in one hand, chocolate in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘Woohoo WHAT A RIDE’! – anonymous

Ah. What these fellas were missing was the Chardonnay and chocolate! Then the ride would have been worth it.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love a good motivational saying like the next person. They’re great little pick-me-ups for when you’re feeling like crap and want a little nugget that suggests everything will be okay in the end. They’re even great for when you’re feeling good and want confirmation that you’re on the right track; your attitude doesn’t suck at the moment, and you can nod and even laugh along.

But what if your situation truly does appear hopeless? What if reading quotes like the above feel more like a slap in the face, or a laughing pointing finger, than a comfort? What if you’ve fought and worked and persevered and journeyed tirelessly, only to keep running into to the same barriers, the same obstacles, the same behemoths time and time again? What if you find yourself in that place?

True that the above quotes, and so many others like them, hold grains of truth that can be applied to almost anyone in any situation. But there comes a time when nice cozy sentiments don’t cut it. When everything comes up short and we need to face the reality that no, not everything works out in the end all the time. Not every book, movie, situation, relationship, goal, life has a happy ending. And we’d be sorely remiss to permit – or fool – ourselves to think it does.

There will come a time when the motivational quote you may have to cling to looks more like this:

 Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day*

When you feel like this might truly be the last good fight you’ll ever know. When you are prepared to live and die on this day. When you feel like if you don’t succeed this time, it’ll be the end.

I wonder if you’ve been told at some point or another in your life that “maybe you’ve just got to know when to give up.” I know I have been. And I’ve more than once considered those words. And have almost given in to them as many times.
Almost.

But the question remains: When do you give up? When signs of the impossibility of success surround you like crash debris in an isolated arctic landscape? When you’re face to face with the wolves you’re sure will completely devour you? When you fall so hard and get banged up so much that you’re convinced you’ll never be able to get back on your feet? When you get wedged between rocks so strong they hold you down so you can’t break the surface for air? Does there come a time when you should just lie down on the rocky shore of a gently flowing river and surrender because the fight has become Too. Damn. Hard?

When? When do you pack it in?

Never. Not even when you find yourself on your knees completely exhausted, spent, fenced in, and smack dab in the middle of the den. Even then you must not give up. Instead, strap knives and broken bottles to your bloody, frostbitten hands and say,

 Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day*

Even then, look the problem that’s become your enemy in the eyes, once again, and utter, “Bring it!”

It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. It won’t feel all fuzzy and warm and inspirational. You most likely won’t be putting your glass of Chardonnay and bar of chocolate down in order to strap on your weapons. But you will have the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t give up. You didn’t hit the floor and roll over. You didn’t surrender. You didn’t betray yourself.

But know that you can’t do it completely on your own. Sure, the internal motivation, the perseverance, the drive to survive must come from within yourself. But you can only travel so far via your own strength and determination. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know our own reserves will only last so long. And we know “two heads are better than one.”

So, allow me to share some insights I’ve gleaned on the path of my own non-trivial journey that have now been seared into my head and heart, thanks to The Grey and my sleepless night. And if you have any others, please do share them in the comments below.

1)      Listen to advice. But be choosy. Don’t fall for listening to people who are self-important, people who talk the talk but haven’t walked the walk. Seek the guidance of veterans, of people who’ve been there, people who know what they’re talking about and have the scars to prove it.

2)      Equip yourself. Prepare for the long hard road ahead before you take that first step. Know what you’re getting into enough to anticipate challenges. Research. Feed yourself with knowledge and pray for wisdom.

3)      Get into a group of like-minded people. And stay there. Those who lag behind, the sick, the injured ones, they are always the ones to get picked off first.

4)      Don’t get cocky and think you’re better or smarter than others. This means be open to new ideas, suggestions, perspectives, approaches. This also includes being nice to people and getting along. Because if you don’t you’ll soon find yourself at the back of the group. A prime pick-off target.

5)      Be creative. If one method doesn’t work, try another. Be smart. Think ahead. Open your mind. Break the cycle of insanity**

6)      Determine now that even if, after doing all that was humanly and spiritually possible, you still end up smack dab in the middle of the den, you won’t roll over. You’ll strap knives and broken bottles to your hands and utter, “Bring it!”

7)      Make a pact with yourself that the only time you’ll actually give up is when you’ve got no vitals and your soul has left the building. Literally.  

Now get back out there, into the fray.

*Quote from The Grey

** “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

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  1. Awesome post! Great advise and wisdom from you. Missed you at the tweetup.

  2. Great post, Claudia. I’m going to re-read it a few times and digest. 🙂

  3. Good advise Claudia. Perserverence is tough!

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