Never Give Up (Until You’re Forced To, And Even Then…)


I wasn’t intending on posting another article until the weekend, but something happened to me today and I wanted to talk about it because I’m pretty sure it happens to most of us at some point, or even repeatedly, in our lives.

Something gets in the way of something else you were intending to do.

A bit of context: several little things got in my way today. And as we know, the little things often add up to large things (or rather, things that seem large but only to us) and then the whole situation snowballs out of control. Yeah, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. So on with the story.

As I was driving home this afternoon, traffic was crazy and I was already a little on edge, exhausted from a long day at work. I knew that the fuel level in the car was low, but suddenly it beeped at me and I saw that it had properly plummeted since that very morning. It was now in the red and I only had a certain amount of kilometres left until I would run out. I told myself it was fine, because the car manual said it had at least 40km autonomy from when the light comes on, but as I drove, I could tell that Trixie (our car) wasn’t quite herself. I’d been eager to go running after work and so I’d decided to wait until the morning, but as I’ve often learnt in life, it’s better not to put these things off if you get *that feeling* about them. You know, just in case.

So I went to the petrol station and parked at the pump, behind a guy whose car was either too far forward or too far back, depending on how you look at it. Kind of in between pumps, which meant I couldn’t quite park close enough to pull the diesel pump all the way to my car. So I sat and grumbled and waited, and he was taking forever, so I reversed and went to the other side of the pumps (with the fuel cap now on the wrong side), and by this time he’d emerged and was getting back in his car. Of course.

I took a long, deep breath. Just one of those days.

I got out of the car, pulled the pump round the back, tried to open the flap over the fuel cap and couldn’t. And because it’s still a relatively new car and I’m a wuss and my husband usually gets fuel, I’d only ever done it once for Trixie. So I couldn’t remember if I had to press something inside the car or if there was a secret catch or something. So I put down the pump (in the right place), got in the car, looked around, muttered some more. Couldn’t find it. Got out again, noticed a couple of people were staring, tried to keep the temperature of my face at a respectably inconspicuous level. I got the pump again and tried to open the flap…

… which opened on the first try. Because of course it did. 

I blinked at it, but I’m not sure it got the message. Then I tried to unscrew the cap. But, of course, because I was holding the pump in my left hand and it was already stretched to maximum, I found this incredibly challenging and ended up pouring diesel down the side of the car (and onto my fingers) before I managed to get it open.

I filled up the car, taking several more deep breaths (which stank of fumes).

Thinking the ordeal was over, I went into the petrol station to pay and while I was queuing, noticed there was a hair stuck in my mouth. I hate it when this happens (let’s be honest, most people with hair do). But I simultaneously realised I had diesel all over my fingers. So it was a matter of trying to grab the hair as discretely as possible while avoiding touching the skin on my face and not looking like I was pawing at myself randomly… yeah, good luck with that.

In the meantime, the queue had progressed and I realised the person in front of me was very probably someone from Zumba class who I’d talked to several times. By the time my brain had processed this, she’d already left without me being able to say hello… and if she did recognise me, probably thought I was blanking her for some reason because I’d mostly been frowning at the floor or staring into the distance since I’d entered the shop (you’re probably not going to read this, fellow Zumba lady, but I’m really sorry if I offended you…).

I opened my mouth to speak to the cashier, who cut me off and said: “Pump 8?” This threw me as well, before I realised that she must have seen my adventures at the pump through the window. Damn quiet days and nosy employees with nothing better to do than stare. I spent a few seconds in stunned silence before I realised I was supposed to put my card in the machine. I paid and left as quickly as I could while praying nothing else would go wrong. In fact, I was so relieved to reach home unscathed that I had to sit in the car for a few seconds before I could move again.

So why am I telling you this?

Well. As I said, I’d planned to go running… but my little adventure at the petrol station left me in an even sourer mood. All I wanted was to sit down and have a cup of tea and mull over the small evils of this world. I’m sure you know the feeling, the one we so easily give into at the slightest crack in our resolve… But I told myself no. I had to go running. I WANTED to go running, therefore I should. So I went home and resorted to one of my tricks to make sure I couldn’t back out of it.

It worked. All dressed up in running gear, I left my building and set the timer on my running watch. I walked the usual warming-up distance and started running… and almost immediately, a sharp pain shot through my bad knee. My bad knee has been bad for quite some time now (ever since I twisted it at a birthday party when I was 10, in fact) but its bad-knee-antics vary… it’s been twingeing since I’ve started running, but again, so has the other one on occasion. I’m told this is normal, and it happens mostly when I push myself harder than usual. And because I went for a 6.1km run (now my record) on Sunday, averaging about 8km/h (not my usual pace for such a distance), I’m guessing something must have happened to it then.

But I carried on, because screw petrol station fiascos and bad knees and because I said I would. Rarg! But every single time I put my foot down, my knee twinged. And then I realised I was actually running with a limp. So I stopped, conscious of the various people on the street, ambling about their business like their own knees hadn’t a care in the world. I walked a bit, then tried to run again. To no avail.

It was as if my body had completely forgotten how to run.

My left leg seemed to have no idea how to position itself and because I was probably trying to unconsciously protect my knee, the muscles in my leg were tensing up and causing a pinching pain deep in my hip. So I walked all the way to the forest and thought “right, it’s flatter and the ground is softer now… this’ll do it.”

I’m sure you can guess it totally didn’t.

I walked home in the end, looking and feeling rather sorry for myself, because how is it fair when you overcome the usual pesky obstacles put in place by your mood and your brain only to fall prey to the failings of your own body (it just occurred to me that that’s quite an accurate summary of one’s path in life in general)… You know, the body you’re trying to help get fitter in the first place.

So I went home, cursed my knee, moaned to my husband (sorry, love) and phoned the osteopath. I’m going to see her next week and I’m going to have this bad knee thing fixed (hopefully) once and for all.

Because if I didn’t give up running this afternoon over my foul mood, I’m certainly not going to let a second or even third hold-up get the better of me. I might have to quit for a little while (though I’m still planning on trying again on Thursday, just in case the offending joint needed a couple of extra days to recover) if the doc says so, but I’m going to do everything it takes so that I can continue to go running.

It’s one of the biggest victories (over myself, over laziness, over tarmac) of my life. No one, not even my knee, can take that away from me. 

So if you’re ever thinking of not doing something (I’m talking about something healthy, useful and possibly challenging, of course) because of a bad day or a foul mood, don’t even go there. Get up and do it, no excuses accepted.

Because one day, be it in the near or distant future, you might want to do that special something and be prevented by circumstances beyond your control. And it will annoy you (and if there’s a knee or something like a knee involved, it’ll hurt) a hundred times more than actually doing the thing itself would. So do it while you can… and be proud of your achievements, always. 🙂

One thought on “Never Give Up (Until You’re Forced To, And Even Then…)

  1. Pingback: Reaching a Milestone (and Moving On) | The Thought Walker

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