It’s Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday. For some of us it’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. It means sacrifice, giving up something you enjoy for the next forty days in preparation for Easter. Last year I gave up meat, or tried to and ate a lot of fish. I like how fish is not considered meat in the Catholic mindset. It comes from Mediterranean cultures that ate mostly fish and very few veg, and grains: it was to keep these people from starving.
In this spirit I had a frozen waffle I nearly charred to get heated up throughout. I’m still hoping to find King Cake somewhere.
Besides deprivation I’ve been thinking about my own limitations. Yesterday I went jogging/walking at the lake and found I could not jog longer than 2 minutes at a time. It was cold, I was going against the wind and the wind was cold. I had trouble breathing due to allergies and when you can’t breathe it’s hard to do anything. I was disappointed and aggravated at myself, I know I can do better but wheezing through my mouth I had a hard time believing it. I do better indoors: on the treadmill with air conditioning /heat, handles for balance and a TV overhead, preferably a TV showing BBC America. Certain times of the month are harder or easier too.
I’m determined to jog/run a 5K next month. I have 4 weeks to get ready and thought I’d be doing 2 miles easy by now. I forgot to take my somewhat lazy nature, left knee, general chunkiness and advanced age into consideration. I know I can walk this dude now, no problem, but I want to run and if not run then jog the race. It looks like I will be doing a combination of jogging and walking, running is not likely but I don’t want to give up. Yet I have to admit this may not be something I can do, no matter how much I may want to do it.
I’m used to challenging myself, pushing myself a little harder, a little longer to achieve my goal. I usually get it, then keep going rather than getting too comfortable with what I’ve done, afraid I’ll give up or quit if I get complacent. If it is something I want I’ll do nearly anything to get it, but the desire has to be there otherwise I give half effort. Which explains why I’m not rich or winner of a Nobel Prize.
It also explains why I’m occasionally at odds with other people’s expectations of me, the hassles I’ve had in the past with what was expected of me and how I managed to do my own poorly-thought-out thing. Even when it seemed too late I kept going, hanging in because I had to, I was committed and there was no other way. Even those things that were expected that I did do I did my own way and that sometimes worked but often tanked.
Like trying to take care of my aunt when she broke her wrist. I looked after her for 15 of the longest months of my life, gave up my job, my life and nearly my sanity. I didn’t ask for help, because I knew it wasn’t coming, I went every day to make sure she had something to eat, cleaned her house, made sure she took her meds, drove her and helped her to the bathroom. Only one person offered to help out occasionally and she might have saved my life, she saved my sanity. But even knowing I was doing the right thing was not enough, it got to me and those last few weeks I drove home crying, knowing I’d be back doing the same minute tasks in a few hours. I had reached my limit and I knew it even though I kept going, because I had to, no one else would do it. It wasn’t until that last week in May that I asked my sisters, who lived in the same neighborhood, and my aunt’s next door neighbor, if they would bring her breakfast, lunch and dinner and check on her throughout the day, even a phone call would do. It took 3 of them to do what I did and if I had reliable backup I may have lasted longer but that’s moot. I told my aunt I wouldn’t be able to come anymore and that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She was confused and didn’t understand and I knew I had let her down.
I’m still going to keep trying, but will try not to be disappointed when I don’t succeed. I’m still going to do the race and hope I can run it but if I jog or even have to walk part of it I’ll try to remember at least I am going to finish. Yesterday when I was at the lake I saw only 3 people out there. The weather may have had something to do with it, only the hardcore and insane would be out in it and I’m not sure which category I fall into. But I was and just that act put me ahead of those people who looked outside and decided to stay home instead.