On Quitting

Right, so, that was painful.  And, yes, it still hurts, although it seems to be passing. But am I actually going to quit?

Yes and no. Yes, I need to quit, but, no, I probably won't. I'm not sure that this is entirely a good thing.

Where am I going with this thought?

I am still very, very tired from this past weekend.  I feel like a storm has blown through and there are still branches down in the street.  I am happy to have had the desire to blog again, at least briefly.  Will that last?  I don't know, but I realize that I actually hope so.

I don't like quitting.  And yet, it is an odd form of weakness not to be able to quit doing something that hurts so very much.  Why don't I just run away?

I meant this post to be a little more philosophical, not just ramblings, but not having blogged in so long, maybe this is what I need to do.  Just sit down at the page and....  And what?

What is the difference between quitting and failure?  When I say I don't like quitting, that is not actually true.  I have quit many things in my life, some of which I did for even longer than I have been fencing.

Or, rather, I have quit some things; other things I have simply stopped doing without purposefully quitting.

Quitting, I think, is actually better.

It is definite, an actual decision.  Something that takes strength and will power.  Like quitting smoking.  Or your job.

Simply stopping without purposefully quitting is different.  It just means you drift away.

I could let myself just drift away from fencing.  Not go to practice as much.  Not go to tournaments.  Find that I haven't been in a month and didn't really miss it.  Notice that I haven't even thought about picking up a foil.  And not care.

This is how I stopped knitting.  Sort of.  I still have projects gathering dust on the needles, but it's laughable.  One has been stalled since I was in graduate school.  Another, which I bought so as to try to get back into it, has been gathering dust (literally) for three or four years.  I finished the first scarf, but the second is sitting somewhere in a bag.

But knitting was never actually painful.  I just lost interest, as they say.

Piano and swimming, on the other hand.  Well.  There were tears.  There was the frustration of not knowing how to practice.  There was the envy of those who seemed to sail through the awkwardness and actually be accomplished, not just perpetually intermediate.

I never actually quit piano, I kept meaning to get back to it.  I even bought a piano after I got tenure, thinking that then I would get myself to practice again.

I've been using the piano occasionally of late to try to figure out the fiddle tunes we're learning.  But I realize I am probably never going to actually get myself to play again.

And I hate swimming.  Viscerally.  My skin shrinks even at the thought of diving into a pool again.  I feel reproached whenever someone mentions swimming to keep fit.  There is no way I would put myself through that tedium again.

But fencing.  Fencing I am actually moderately good at.  I did not, in fact, fence badly this past weekend.  In certain respects, I fenced better than I ever have in my life.

Which is probably why it hurt so very, very much when I choked.

There is no way to make this feeling go away.

Because I still care?  Oddly, I'm not sure.  Do I care?  Or is what broke inside me on Sunday that--caring?  It hurt so very, very much to want a particular result (yes, yes, I know), know what I needed to do, and then not do it.

But if I don't care, what will be my motivation?

It takes enormous willpower to get to practice even as infrequently as I have been.  The weather, the distance, the traffic, my health, my work.  All are against my practicing at all, never mind more than once or twice a week.

You have to want it, so they say.  But wanting is what makes it hurt.

It is easy to quit something you don't want anymore.  You just step away.

Quitting something that you don't care about is the easiest thing in the world.

I don't know which thought makes me sadder.

That I might actually quit.

Or that I already have.


  1. I am glad you are back to blogging, even though I am sorry that it was a bad experience that made you want to write here again. I've missed reading your posts.

    I know what you mean about not being able to quit. I was running a half marathon recently that was just horrific--I got sick 4 miles in, got overheated and dehydrated, was barely able to move forward at a walk, wanted to stop at every medic station, but somehow I simply could not allow myself not to finish the damn race. And that was really dumb! It's not like I was going to win the race, even if I had been able to run my best. There was absolutely nothing at stake--it was just one race of many, not a particularly important one, but I was not going to quit even if I made myself more ill by finishing.

  2. It is good to be back, in a bittersweet sort of way! I feel like I have been holding my breath and that the dam broke (mixing metaphors) on Sunday. But I thought that I had made such progress, so it is humbling to have to be back here, on my knees, as it were.


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