Sunday, March 17, 2013

Long Shots

When I was younger, I was afraid to lose. I remember field day in elementary school and the heavy nervousness I felt in my stomach every time I envisioned the possibility of not coming in first in a running race. Looking back, I can't believe that I cared so much about winning, especially at such a young age. A part of me regrets not just enjoying it all a bit more.

Truthfully, I didn't feel an ounce of pressure to win from my parents. They are both competitive in their own productive and unique ways, but I never, ever thought that either of them would be the slightest bit disappointed in me if I lost. I just knew that for whatever reason, I would be disappointed in myself. Now that I'm a parent, I realize that my parents probably cared about the outcome of a field day race or a high school basketball game only because I did.

Decades later, I wonder if my kids will experience that nervous feeling in their stomach when they're preparing for field day in the third grade. While some butterflies are OK, most of me hopes that my kids are more lighthearted than I was. Truthfully, I'd love to see them come in fifth or eighth or even last, as long as they're happy. Mostly, I just want to be there to hug them if they lose or if they win or if they decide they'd have more fun just keeping score. 

I've talked about victory and defeat before and I don't mean to rehash all of that tonight. Tonight, I just want to write a short piece about something that I have realized my cancer battle has helped develop in me -- a stubborn and resilient attitude that is summarized by this quote my cousin Kyle sent me a few months ago:

“The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”
Ayn Rand

OK, that's a bit more confident than I really am inside, but I love it nonetheless.

*  *  *

Last Friday was the deadline for my town's annual writing contest. Actually, the deadline had been March 1st, but they extended it, which was great news for me. I had really wanted to submit something but the contest called for a short story or a poem. By March 1st, my therapeutic writing sessions hadn't yielded one of those, no matter how much I had wanted them to.

Last Thursday night around 10pm, I sat at my computer facing the March 15th contest deadline. I had early pre-op appointments at the Faulkner the next morning so I knew I should get to bed. But I still hadn't written anything to submit and I felt really disappointed in myself -- kind of like a fraud. If I wanted to pretend like I was a writer, I really should be able to come up with something less than 1,000 words. So I decided to write for two hours. Whatever I had at the end, that's what I would submit. I wrote for an hour straight, then revised for another 30 minutes. By 11:30, I submitted my entry.

Tonight, I wrote well over 1,000 words for a completely different cause. This morning, my friend Leonard sent me the link to an interesting way for Writing Saves Lives to secure some funding. I was psyched by this chance, however remote, and I've been working on the related application ever since the kids went to bed.

Just like the Ladies' Home Journal essay contest, my short story and my funding application are total long shots. But here's something I love about cancer (wait, did I just say that?) -- it totally dismantled my fear of losing. Let me correct that -- cancer dismantled my fear of losing anything less than a battle with cancer.

Seriously, I do need to thank the stupid disease for the fact that I'm just not afraid of someone telling me No like I was before. No? OK, I'll move on. And I'll just keep trying until someone finally tells me Yes. 

1 comment:

  1. Love reading you. Awesomeness in every post. Best of luck with your entries -- my vote's with you no matter what you said, lol. Great link back to "Victory" -- that one still cracks me up. Teddy...

    I am honored to reside in your blogsphere. Could bore the world with the dozens of thoughts and ramblings your comments inspire. Even if we folks on the other side of your keyboard don't post back as often as we should, know with every entry, you are loved and appreciated beyond words...hee hee.

    Let's walk or have coffee one of these springy days, T. Have a great Monday! xo K.