There’s a trait I share with my mother and older brother. It’s one I’ve long known about, though it’s been thrown in stark relief as of late. Here’s the story of how I first learned of its existence:
When I was in high school, I wanted to put a CD player in my car. (Showing my age.) I mentioned this to my dad, and he said to wait and that we’d work on it soon. I was usually a respectful enough teenager, as far as teenagers go (note: all teenagers are monsters), but this time, not so much. I didn’t want to wait, so I cobbled together a ghetto system and, ta-da, I had a CD player in my car.
I got in trouble, naturally, but what I remember was my dad saying how I was acting like my older bother. “He would know he’d get in trouble, but do it anyway,” he said. You can’t fault my brother for being dumb; he always knew the consequences. He just decided to do it anyway.
This is the trait my mother, brother, and I share. Of course, none of us are getting in trouble with our parents anymore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.
I was thinking about this earlier today when I decided, instead of going to sleep after my night shift like a sane person, to take a 30 minutes nap and then join my friends for bottling the homebrew beer we made a while back. I was so loopy I refused to drive to my friend’s house (it would have been too dangerous), and while there I joked about having approximately twelve cogent thoughts over the two hour period. I was exhausted, barely able to stay on my feet, and I knew I would be when I decided to go the day prior. I just decided to do it anyway.
This happens when my older brother decides to join a canoe race, despite having four kids, a wife, and an executive-level job. (He’d never been in a canoe race before, and his team ended up getting lost. Search and rescue was called. None of us were pleased.) This happens when my mother decides to work too much, even though she knows she’ll be tired and irritable and she’s 70 years old, because she wants to save up for a cruise she wants to go on. (She works as a substitute, and some of the schools she teaches at are pretty rough, though less so after she arrives.) This happens when I take on three jobs, even though I know it’ll make me miserable for the foreseeable future, because I don’t want to pass up one (craft brewery) and I can’t stop doing another (writing).
None of this sounds especially unique; everyone decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs before they engage in any transaction, material or otherwise. But what makes this trait odd is that we never delude ourselves to the cost. Some people would, when they decide to work three jobs, say “I can do this, it’ll be no problem!” Not me. I knew it would be a shit show from day one,, I just did it anyway. The benefits (being able to develop the brewery job into a full-time position, continuing to write books, being able to afford food) outweighed the costs, but I never lied to myself about the costs. I just decided to do it anyway.
This gives us a certain kind of superpower. Where others will quit once they realize the task is harder than they realized, or will never start because they realize how terrible it will be, we’re comfortable with the slog. “Fuck it, I’ll do it anyway” could be our motto. That’s why I’m able to finish books, my brother did the work to become an executive, and my mother was able to raise people like us. We accept the consequences of our decisions, and do it anyway.
(None of this is to say that the rest of my family, or my friends, or my coworkers, colleagues, and/or acquaintances that I respect don’t possess this trait as well, and aren’t comfortable with the slog. Some aren’t, but many are. They’re just not so prone to openly admitting to the consequences of their actions ahead of time, and deciding to do them anyway.)
You’ll probably see this trait in some of my characters going forward. You’ll definitely see it in me. Weathering the storm in full recognition of the pain is what’s gotten me this far. I’m only going to take it farther from here.As always, thank you for using my Amazon Affiliate link (info).