Don't stop

August 8, 2013

Being good at something feels awesome. Or maybe it's just getting better at something. I'm not talking about the kind of feel-good from eating a juicy steak or having a good time at an awesome party. It's something that sticks around. Like getting better at some sport, or playing an instrument. And I don't think it's about being better than someone or everyone else. I mean, that's the goal for a lot of things, to win, but haven't you ever lost at something and still felt amazing? Even dead last, but you're pumped because you even did it at all?

The scary thing is, these things you spend time getting better at, at the expense of other things you care about, you can lose it. Okay, there are some things you'll never forget, just like how you'll never forget how to ride a bike, but most things, if you stop, you're going to lose it. At first it doesn't seem like a big deal. You slip a day or two, no problem. A week is still okay. You deserve a vacation. Uh oh, three weeks. A month. Three months. Probably around there is when you throw your hands up in the air, like fuck it. The difference between six months and three months feels less than that first week. It's worse because you don't even remember. Something else has taken that precious spot in your mind. And it snuck up on you out of the blue. How else would it have? Would you have let it if you had a say?

Then one day, you're laying in bed, or drinking a beer, or walking to work, and it hits you, that you used to do that thing. That thing that hey, maybe you weren't the best, but you were getting pretty damn good, and it was hard (I'm talking about the hard things), which is why it's such a shame that you've completely forgotten about it, and you think, I should really get back on that. Most of the time, it stops there, and you continue not doing it. And thank god, because you've only got so much time. But sometimes you think, hey let's pick it up again. See how much you remember. Does it come back to me?

And it does. Which sucks. Because it comes back, but you're definitely rusty, and you think about how if you hadn't let it slip away so many months (or years) ago, how much farther you'd be. You think about your idols, your heroes, and how they didn't stop. Whatever, you say, and then most times here, too, it stops.

Which is totally cool. In fact, there's a pretty good chance that you've been working on something completely different, something just as difficult and rewarding that now you're also pretty damn good at. Even if that isn't the case, whether you know it or not, you're better than before at something, unless you've deliberately been trying to do nothing. So don't get down about it.

But, each time this happens, it's like a little shock. You know in the movies, when they're trying to resuscitate someone with those two things they put on someone's chest, or they just pulled someone out of the water, and it never works the first, second, third time? How when you think it's over, their eyes open and they explode back to life coughing or whatever? Well, sometimes this happens with whatever you're thinking about.

You pick it up and like I said, you're rusty. So you pick it up again the next day, and you're still rusty. But you get an itch, a taste of that familiar feeling that had you doing it at all in the first place. And sometimes, by some miracle, you keep going. The first few days are the hardest. After that it's the next few weeks. But if you manage to keep it going, that difference between being back three months in and six months in is smaller than that first week.

Sure, you can get down about the time lost. But you know that feeling after you didn't win, even if you were dead last, that you felt amazing? Pumped that you even did it at all, and can't wait for your next go? That goes for everything. And thank god, because you've got so much time.