Why giving up doesn’t work

Provided by Bobbie Herron from Aloft with Inspiration

A few weeks ago I posted a piece called “Final Chapter…”

At the time I had every reason to believe that I would need to discontinue my blog, sketching, teaching art, reading for pleasure…all the activities that had given meaning to my life thusfar, all because of a sudden spike in progressive blindness.

I reached out to my local low vision / blind services agency that works with people experiencing various stages of vision loss. I have been involved with them on and off for several years, and in truth that agency had a lot to do with my choosing this city as my home. Vision loss and emergency eye surgeries have been part of my life since I was 22 years old (context: when Gerald Ford was president.)

As difficult and complicated as my life has been, taking care of my eyes has always been simpler than caring for my spirit. I have felt like damaged goods and carried that into every relationship I ever had. I let fear make most of my decisions, simply because I saw no alternative. I was utterly unaware that rehearsing disasters did nothing to soften their possible blow, and in truth it simply wasted time and energy that were each in short supply. I ended relationships before people had a chance to abandon me. For my twenties and thirties I turned to alcohol–not as a solution, but as a blessed brief respite from a life I had grown to hate.

What I was incapable of seeing at the time was that I can’t always make matters better, but I can always, always make them worse. Refraining from the latter became a powerful option.

During the weeks since that massive Christmas Weekend Retinal Hemorrhage occurred, I have been vividly aware of the power of Thought.

Every thought I have entices me away from this very moment.

Our ability as humans to Make Stuff Up and Then Believe It is astounding. With this one simple awareness, I can take a step back over and over again and see whether I am creating joy or torture for myself.

The third option (which I am quite new at) is slowing down that compulsive speed-of-light thinking, bypassing both joy and torture, and just witnessing this moment whenever I can.

Regarding eyesight: I can’t see what I could see in November, but I can still see. I may lose more sight, very likely actually, but fretting is a pointless waste of time. I have all my support systems in order, so all I need to do now is enjoy life until the next spiritual smack-up-side-the-head. I’ll deal with that when it comes, not today. For today, I still love saying, “Look at THAT!”

I have gotten rid of my car because I can no longer drive safely.  Of course, like everyone who forfeits their driver’s license, it is a blow to my identity as an independent adult as much as it is a serious inconvenience. But the upside is that introverted hermit-hood is no longer a lifestyle option for me. I have to walk, or take the bus, or take a taxi, or ask a friend for help. The good news is that although asking for help may be a challenge for my cocky little ego, it is not a massive burden for my friends. On the contrary, it gives us an excuse to slow down and get together socially in lives that have become way too busy for everyone. The tempo of life slows instantly when you can no longer grab your keys and go.

A friend who got a DWI several years ago referred to losing his license as joining the “State-Mandated Exercise Program.” Yes, it is that as well. Yesterday, because it was a balmy 35°F and sunny with no wind, I decided to walk to my two appointments rather than take the bus. As a result I walked for over an hour straight. I was tired by the end and my legs were a bit wobbly but I was so proud of myself.

Now my mantra is, “Why not?” I can walk, so I walk. I can see, so I draw. I have ten good fingers so I write. I have the beginning of memory loss, so I try to forget resentments and regrets first, to make room for the good stuff that’s left.

As the title says, giving up doesn’t work.

I tried it for decades. Eventually some fool will come along and say something funny and you’ll start to laugh and your whole bubble of self-satisfied negativity will begin to crumble despite your best efforts.

We are like plants you know— we are drawn toward the light, toward warmth, toward growth. Perhaps even toward joy. Giving up is like holding your breath; it only works for a little while. Eventually you have to pee, and you get a little hungry. Then you think about what might taste good and your whole plan for chronic misery goes right out the window.

Face it. You prefer pleasure. Welcome to my world.

One foot in front of the other.

Originally posted on Aloft with Inspiration


35 thoughts on “Why giving up doesn’t work

  1. This is such a beautifully written post. Reminds me of a John Milton quote that said “To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.” Your attitude is inspiring. I hope, if ever in such a situation, I can have the strength not to give up either. Life is only ever lived in the present as you say. Thanks again 🙏

  2. Very inspiring. Your change of perspective and giving up loosing hope. Sorry you had to go through all that, and still have to re-adjust to your new life. The positivity in embracing the good in it, seeking joy and focusing on the good is very commendable. Great post, all the best.

  3. A great read for the day. Losing hope, giving up. The last paragraph gave the soul a dose of positivity. Hope you remain this confident and hopeful. Take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing this inspirational story.

  4. Oh my goodness Bobbie – you are truly amazing and inspirational. I love your story here and I agree so much with everything you have written. Thanks for opening your heart and soul to us and at the same time proving to all of us that life is what we make it! Our negative thoughts can so get in the way unless we can just watch them come and go. I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to reblog this for my followers because I want as many people to benefit from your talent, inspiration and motivation as possible. You have a gift and we are blessed to be able to benefit from it. Thanks again – onward and upward!

  5. Reblogged this on Life’s to Support and commented:
    Bobbie is truly amazing and inspirational. I love his story here and I agree so much with everything written. I am so thankful for him opening his heart and soul to us and at the same time proving to all of us that life is what we make it! Our negative thoughts can so get in the way unless we can just watch them come and go.

    1. Hi again Bobbie – I am having technical difficulties with my blog. Even tho, I selected re-blog, it does not show on my site. I have contacted tech support and they are looking into to it. I wish I could just click on re-blog and try it again, but it is no longer clickable as it thinks I have it already. 🙁

  6. Beauty comes in little things and having the ability to walk somewhere is still something great. I’m sorry to hear about your condition. I hope you find your strength in those around you and in yourself to keep doing what you love.

  7. I loved this so much I read it twice! I have been fighting loosing my vision for years now. I end up having to go to the eye doctor for stronger glasses every year instead of every two! This means insurance only pays for every other time I go. I know there will come a point when they are unable to provide anything stronger. I have considered Lasik but am too afraid of it. So, it is what it is! Thank you for sharing this journey!

    1. Thank you emaylerocks– you do understand. It is a very individual walk, no one truly knows what your shoes feel like, but I hear you, and wish you all the best. We cheer each other on! 🙂

  8. This is a great article! The quote which got me was “I try to forget resentments and regrets first, to make room for the good stuff that’s left.” Thats a brilliant attitude to have!!

  9. Thanks for the insightful post, Bobbie. What you’ve written here proves that a person doesn’t need to have 20/20 vision to see pretty well. Your vision and your words are clear here!

  10. I really needed to read this today. I especially related to the line “Eventually some fool will come along and say something funny and you’ll start to laugh and your whole bubble of self-satisfied negativity will begin to crumble despite your best efforts.” Such a great post. Thank you.

  11. I was moved by this post. I am so glad that you did not give up. I love reading what you post. This post caused me to reflect on things I’d not considered. What if I lost my sight? My voice? My vision? I hope you keep writing.

    1. Hannotek, may I suggest that, rather than ask, “What if I lost my sight?” you ponder instead, “How many superpowers do I have that I haven’t played with today?” It can be very exciting…

  12. Really nice. It’s true, we look for hope!
    I am also a small blogger, and while starting I thought of giving up but I still wanted to do it. I am glad I did it. Thank you for this post! All the love<3

  13. Hey your blog is just awesome and I have too tried something related.. please visit my blog once.
    Today I’m going to talk you all about one serious issue which needs to be highlighted. A disease which doesn’t seems as disease. A disease which has no expression. It can be behind any face, smiling or sad. Yes, I’m talking about DEPRESSION. An illness which can’t discriminated on basis of an category. We need to be aware…and spread it on very platform. And ask the patient to share their pain without feeling ashamed.
    I urge to everyone to stand together for something very important.
    Here I’m providing my blog link regarding same. No, not for likes or advertisement. It’s only for awareness. Try to share it and spread curve of smile.

  14. You should have named this post “Why giving up and also fretting doesn’t work.” I read everyone’s comments and did not feel I could add much more…only hoping you are well and taking care. Hoping everyone’s support will reach you.

  15. Such beautiful words. From an initial place if pain that you flip so majestically in its head to show us we can all do the same.

    I often think about things in my life, “Why would I bother, why would I even think I can do that?” What happens if I flip that on its head and say, “Why wouldn’t I bother, why would I think I can’t do that?” It’s a simple change but one that has been helping me in the last couple of years.

    Thank you. 🙂

  16. Wow this is beautifully honest and connected with me. Keep writing sir! We are listening and even though your vision is less, I suspect you “see” more than others 🙂 be well

  17. As many wise fellows have said countless times:
    “You have no control over Life. You can only control how you respond to Life.”
    At that, might I add:
    “I am helpless.
    I can influence Life to a certain degree, but I cannot control Life any more than I could force the Earth to stop turning.
    Even if I COULD do that, I still couldn’t stop the sands of time from flowing.
    Life will always lie just outside of humanity’s control.
    But we can point and laugh at Life’s follies.
    We can also drink and fold at its harshness.
    I personally prefer to gripe and laugh.”

  18. I have found that giving up is more exhausting than actually seeing things through. The thoughts after you’ve missed opportunities etc etc are exhausting. Lovely post I relate to every word and yes I do prefer pleasure lol.

    1. Hear hear. I find that the act of giving up can be more traumatic and damaging to the spirit and psyche than simply failing.
      If I fail, I can learn from it and do better next time.
      And there’s ALWAYS a next time. If not in this life, then in another.
      Failing can be as much of a blessing as succeeding.
      But if I give up, it can needle at me and create hidden wounds that could take weeks, months or years to heal.
      So while there are occasions where it is better to give in, it’s not something to make a habit out of.

  19. I absolutely love what you said and how you said it!! As a severe TBI survivor, most of the things that you said really echoed with me Especially the line “you might not be able to fix things but you can definitely make them worse”. Good luck with your vision brother and with your attitude, if you don’t mind, i’ll pray for you 🙂

Leave a Reply