Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Did You Ever?

The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

-Walter Bagehot

Doing what people say you can't. Hmmm. Did you ever do something just because someone told you you can't?

I have. For sure. As soon as I turned 18 and I knew I had a say about myself and I didn't just have to do what my father said, I definitely did the opposite.

For example. My dad said I couldn't join the Marines. I think his exact words were something along the line of "I won't let you." or "You're not allowed." So, what did I do?

I joined the Marines.

I think it was a good decision. I learned a lot about life and myself. I didn't stay in long. Only a few years. But those years as a Marine gave me confidence I didn't know I had and taught me that I could do things on my own.

What was the next thing my dad told me I couldn't do? Oh yeah. Get married. So, what did I do?

You guessed it!

I got married. To another Marine. Yep. Did I do it just because my dad said I couldn't?

Oh, that's a good question. Looking back, I think I did. My dad said the marriage wouldn't last six months. Well, I showed him.

The marriage didn't last, but it lasted a lot longer than six months. And I had three great kids from it so it couldn't have been all that bad in the beginning.

Did I learn my lesson about arbitrarily doing the thing someone told me I couldn't? Not really. I guess it's in my nature. I hear those words "you can't" and they grate on me. Why can't I? I'll show you!

I'm like that with my health too. In 2002 and 2003 I was using a cane and in a wheelchair. People telling me I can't do this or can't do that. That life as it exists at that point was as good as it was going to get. It wasn't good enough. I wanted more. I wanted to be out of that wheelchair, walking and not with the cane. So, I did it. I refused to give up, so my doctor refused to give up as well.

Where's my wheelchair? Gathering dust in the garage for the last three of four years.

Do I recommend this kind of attitude for others? Not for someone to do blindly. No, I've definitely learned my lesson on that regard. I think about my decisions now. Weigh the consequences. Then make up my mind. I do use some common sense. If my husband says I can't lift that 200 pound table top, I agree with him. I'm not an idiot. I know my back will never be the same again, and I'm going to be careful about how I take care of it. Lifting 200 pound stone tabletops is not on the "can do" list.

So, my advice to you is this: Be your own person. Be smart. Give yourself some credit for knowing what's good for you. Take other people's suggestions on advisement, weigh your options. Then make up your own mind. Live your life. Don't let others live it for you.

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