Bootstraps

Late last night, in an email note to a friend, I mentioned that I was in the Slough of Despond. (One of my favorite literary places, though in reality, not a state I love to frequent.) In a matter of minutes the phone rang.

“What’s wrong?” my friend asks and when I try to tell him my trials and exasperations seem minor and petty: It’s hot. I don’t like getting up in the morning. I’m bored with myself. I’m worried about money. I feel blue. Honestly, I can hardly stand being such a whiner.

Listening to his worries in return I feel even more guiltily like a spoiled child: really, I have nothing to complain about. I know that doesn’t stop anyone from feeling down “in such a place as cannot be mended,” but it does give me perspective and that perspective helps me to re-evaluate what is really going on.

There’s a great tradition for “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps.” Never mind that the metaphor is an impossible one– you can’t really pull yourself anywhere by the little leather tabs on the side of boots. In a similar motif, in Rudolph Erich Raspe’s The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron pulls himself out of a predicament by implementing his own pigtail.

But there’s something else about the whole “bootstrap” mechanism: it implies that if you try hard enough, you can achieve the unlikely, if not the impossible, and it’s fine and dandy if your feeble attempts send you into paroxysm. You’ve earned it. Or something.

I think perhaps I prefer the advice of Will Rogers: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

Something in this project isn’t working, so why go on trying the same old thing over and over again? I don’t have to throw the whole thing out, but I need to stop digging.

Then tonight there was a lovely comment on last night’s lament, out of the blue, from someone I don’t know, and it was contained two excellent pieces of advice: I need to have more fun and I need to stop taking it all so seriously. Like the phone call from my friend, there was an extra sweetness there, that someone — nay, two someones– felt compelled enough to reach out and help me out of the Slough. I am humbled and ever grateful.

So what now?  I’m not sure. I did have fun at the Celtic Festival today, even though it was too hot, and the food was a little ghastly and I got a little too much sun and the music was too loud, but the company was excellent. I do need to go on having fun–so tomorrow, before anything else, I am going down to the Y to sign up. It’s not much, but it’s going in the right direction.

It took me twenty years to get here– I can’t expect to get back in a matter of months, but I can certainly have a hell of a time trying.

Forgot to weigh this morning, so no target number. Steps: 8009. For breakfast: Irish “fry” (two eggs scrambled, a rasher of undercooked Irish bacon, one link of very bland Irish sausage, potato scone, half a piece of Irish soda bread) Lunch was a grilled salmon steak on green salad, along with 4 large and delicious french fries nabbed off my son’s plate, and later in the day two squares of Ghirardelli chocolate.  Dinner was yogurt with granola, two hard-boiled eggs, and half a cup of frozen greek yogurt.

 

*image is from the Leeds University Equestrian Department’s 2012 fundraising calendar to raise money for riding programs for the disabled. Sorry, it’s sold out. 

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