Letter Q is for quitting.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter P was for Pandemonium. It was about the doing of things left undone, rather than…quitting. ~
The words of those mustached, fluffy white-haired thinkers — Einstein, Mark Twain — reach into me and take up residence perhaps all the more for their speakers’ paternal appearance. My own father has a head of enlightenment and thick white hair. Any seed of parity and compassion in me is a credit to him.
It was Mark Twain’s quip on smoking — how giving it up was the easiest thing in the world because he’d done it thousands of times — that made an impact on me regarding all forms of quitting.
Quitting and I are frenemies. You see, quitting has liberated me from ghastly situations, but it has also made me abandon good or necessary things. Here’s a sampling of the whole mixed bag:
I’ve quit school, jobs, bad people, bad habits, good habits, infuriating books (Joyce’s Ulysses!), auditioning, French, Italian, German, Russian, Classical Greek, piano, guitar, exercising, mindless TV, white bread, meat, and cigarettes.
Of course, I’ve picked up again many of the good ones, but really, that just makes for more opportunities to quit.
On the other hand, I have not quit slouching, scowling, cursing, unpunctuality, gum-chewing, and cutting my own hair. I’d frankly be fine with regularly smacking gum and cursing at the mirror while chopping my hair into an insane-asylum escapee do. Especially if it meant those other habits would go away. But quitting doesn’t understand compromise. It’s a bully puffing out its chest to let you know it’s bigger than you. You’ve let it shove you around at whim, so it must be true: It’s got muscle and you don’t.
~ I can’t take credit for the entertainment value of “quitting” this post last night at the above point while intending to pick back up and finish now. It just worked out that way. ~
Since quitting bad things is good, and quitting good things is bad, perseverance can mean “staying quitted” as much as it means “sticking to.” Perseverance is the broad-shouldered hall monitor to that chest-puffing bully of quitting.
In my lifetime, I’ve stuck with only four undertakings to date. Everything else, I’ve let go. Even if I went back a hundred times, they were temporary.
Of the four I didn’t let go, one is vegetarianism for the past ten years. Throughout this period, there have been nibbley mishaps or animal stock here and there, but I can count them on one hand. I quit eating animals because my particular constitution doesn’t require them for strong and healthy subsistence. So while I always miss the taste of a great steak, I consider it pure selfishness to eat something that wants to live, just because it tastes good to me. Am I incapable of selfishness? On the contrary, I’m far too capable of it, which is why I deeply value this lifelong exercise in unselfishness. Incidentally, vegetarianism is the first resolve I ever stuck to, which reinforced my determination to keep at it.
Likely, learning one can stick to something makes it easier to stick to other things.
Next came giving up cigarettes. I had been smoking since I was twelve — it suited my black wardrobe and self-image. I was a “bad” girl and liked it that way. But the health freak in me is allied to my perfectionism, which is far more formidable than any addictive personality in me. It took many years to be free of smoking, but I never quit trying to quit, and eventually, one of my attempts stuck. It’s been eight years and my self-satisfaction over this is not something I’m…giving up. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that by a blessing beyond my will, I don’t crave or think about cigarettes just as if I’d never been a smoker in the first place. Losing the craving is as good as a reset button (and took me three long-ass years).
Filmmaking is third on this four-item list of “Things Seen Through.” I won’t abandon the editing and completion of any short film I write and direct, even when I’m utterly crestfallen by the footage quality.
When they speak of passion, ladies and gentlemen, they mean the thing you can’t stop doing.
Until construction is completed on the rest of the route, the fourth and final stop on the willpower tour is this very A to Z Challenge. I’m not a person who does well by rules and deadlines, self-imposed or not. Defiance is practically raison d’être for this itinerant geisha, this freedom-loving “bad” girl, this lovable fuckup. Committing myself to a post a day (yeah yeah, Sundays off) for an entire month has been more constricting than dangling a handcuff from my right wrist for the same duration. You think I didn’t consider quitting seventeen times prior to letter Q? But through the challenge, it happens that I’ve learned:
Organizing thoughts and writing faster, practicing commitment, discerning priority, grabbing instead of waiting for inspiration, flexibility, words don’t need weeklong marinating, tearing myself away from warm arms for the sake of writing, tearing myself from writing for the sake of warm arms, exercise is crucial for overall health, I suck at brevity, friends don’t let friends have typos, barflies are people too, and, you can never make a chain letter charming.
Of the considerable number of friends and family who know me well — in person, for an acceptable amount of time — exactly five have expressed heartfelt support for my continued effort with Gunmetal Geisha. (Thank you NA, GS, TS, VD, NC: You are as instrumental to this site’s growth as the site is to mine. You as well, dear PC and JS.) Other reactions range from indifference and feigned ignorance, to suppressed mocking and outward judging. I don’t have a problem with people who don’t give a shit or even those who make fun. It’s the ones that judge who bring me pause, because they tend to care, about me, and so I care too.
Their concerns regarding my complete absorption with GG:
What exactly are you doing with your life?
How is this helping you?
Why aren’t you making money?
You’re not using your time wisely…
There is no convincing them that every thought-out theme causes me to explore human nature and delve deeper into my own. I live my life differently in an effort to be the ways in which I claim in my writing I strive to be. For me, no decision, interaction or manner of self-conduct happens without examining, am I acting in accordance with the frank, compassionate, thinking person I present myself to be to those who regularly read Gunmetal Geisha? Lack of balance, mismanagement of time, and whatever other flavors of failing besot me, do so in spite of GG, not because of it.
Gunmetal Geisha is not my failing. It is my salvaging. Besides, quitting a passion is like returning a gift without unwrapping it. And that’s just silly.
[Coincidentally, “Quitting” has been brought to you by GG’s 50th post.]
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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