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Checking the Box

Published by GrahamLewis in the blog Reflections on My Golden River. Views: 47

This is sort of related to my earlier post on motivation, and it's more of a rant than an observation, actually.
I'm in my YMCA bike spinning class, and there's a guy, nice enough guy, but he's always kind of chatting, rarely working hard, rarely at the same resistance and speed as the instructor says, just contentedly there, poking along. He has no obvious health issues, he's actually a runner of sorts, and it's no business of mine, but it irks me. Why is he in the class? My guess is that it's an "idea" thing -- he's there because he thinks he should be, it sounds like a good idea. And better than sitting around eating donuts, for sure. But why go through the motions of doing something you don't really want to do? And why undercut the value of the very thing you purportedly are there to do? For yourself for sure, and for others when it annoys the instructor and clouds the atmosphere.

Or on a writer's site I sometimes go to (not this one) where they have a weekly prompt challenge, a 500-word response requested. Invariably one or more visitors will take the topic and run with it for far more than 500 words, saying it's too hard to cut it down, so here, read this. Well, duh. It's supposed to be hard. That's the purpose of it. Again, not my business (though I wish the site would automatically cut off entries at 500 words) but I don't understand the attitude. It's too hard to follow the rule, so I won't. Fine, but you're missing the point, missing the whole reason for being there, to practice writing succinctly. If you're just looking for prompts or a place to try to show off your writing, then do it somewhere else.

I think it's an intellectual conceit, a way to convince oneself that he or she is doing something that sounds good, checking the box on a list of inauthentic goals, pretending to be doing something you have no real desire to do in order to pretend to be something you are not (or pretend not to be something you are).

As I said, it's not really my business when other people do these things. But it irks me. And only unwillingness to come across as a curmudgeon (present company excepted, I feel free to share this with you) stops me from speaking out. Why do these people think it's of value to play the game without really paying the price? Don't they know they are simply assuming a role while pretending to do something and in fact doing that something half-assedly?

I suppose it bothers me so much because I can look back over my own life and see many times that I made myself try to do something because it seemed I should, whether it be read a book I hated or try to care about something that didn't really matter to me, or sound a certain way or act a certain way. To simply have been a pretentious phony.

My motivation during those times being to be something other than myself. To check a box on a self-imposed list, as though that would somehow bring me closer to self-acceptance.

It don't work. Not now, and never did.
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  • GrahamLewis
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