…everyone has a couple that they bend and flex to reach for what they want or push away what they don’t. I seem to be surrounded by people making excuses and bending their elbows, spending more time coming up with reasons as to why they can’t or didn’t do something than actually doing whatever it is they need to do.
Television is bogged down with shows about people making excuses as to why they’re fat, why they’re angry, why they’re damaged, or why they’re stupid. Every corner I turn has someone new making an excuse about why they did a crappy job, let someone down, or diffused responsibility inappropriately. I overhear coworkers blaming their personal deficiencies on others and proverbially throwing people under the bus, so that they don’t have to face any semblance of reality. It is actually so common an occurrence that I am taken aback when someone displays maturity and takes responsibility for their actions.
My weekly visits with the wizards are like huge excusefests, where every single person is either complaining that something involves a slight amount of work or outright refusing to do something because it is too hard. Most people go to physical therapy to fix some kind of problem, so avoiding doing the work to fix said problem seems counterintuitive. It is almost infuriating to hear these people prattle on about how unfair it is that they haven’t made any progress, when they just stand around half-assing all of the exercises that the trained medical professional with decades of experience tell them will help their recovery.
On top of becoming more accepting of laziness, rudeness, and idiocy, our society has also become far too tolerant of people making excuses. Most of the excuses aren’t even clever or original, they are just whiny generalities spewed forth whenever someone doesn’t want to try something. Married your spouse in a rush knowing nothing about them and now regret it deeply? Just get a divorce, why waste the time and energy to fix the relationship. Got fat from a lack of discipline, exercise, and an understanding of nutrition? Screw eating right and fitness, slap a lap-band on that stomach and get to losing that front-butt. Perhaps the root cause is the decline of the virtue of patience, but a culture that glorifies instant gratification also promotes giving up instead of practice and perseverance.
Some of us either don’t have the option or the lack of pride to simply give up when something becomes challenging. Some of us have broken excuses and elbows. I am not comfortable actively dodging my responsibilities and certainly believe that hard work is necessary for success in many cases. In the past 6 weeks, I have gained 20 degrees of movement in my busted-ass elbow (1o in each direction), with an almost 45 degree increase overall. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that I only had 5 degrees of movement total when I got my cast off a few months ago, it is quite an achievement.
It fills me with a sense of satisfaction. I can honestly say that, regardless or anything else going on in my life, I have worked towards something meaningful. Progress is admittedly slower than I expected, but at the end of the day, even a 1 degree increase is something to celebrate. I truly enjoy working hard, whether with the wizards, in the loathsome office, or at my cheery little home; I can fall asleep at night, exhausted by a sense of satisfaction.
I wonder what sense of accomplishment excuses-makers have. While immediate, easy gratification or validation is nice at times, it hardly leaves a lasting sense of value. Do they know the exciting energy of finally nailing every note in a song that you have been practicing for months? Do they get the warm-fuzzies when someone genuinely thanks them for all the help they have selflessly put forth? Do they even acknowledge that hard work can lead to an overwhelming sense of self worth?
I worry that the children of my generation may not know the awesome feeling of real achievement, and will only loosely associate the word with meaningless victories and participation trophies. It will be a sad day for them when they realize that despite all of their parent’s/teacher’s/coach’s/tutor’s/piano instructor’s/therapist’s reassurance that everyone is a winner, there are in fact losers. Participation doesn’t count for shit if you don’t finish the game.