My parents cursed me. They didn’t curse AT me (very often). But, they DID place a curse on me – like a hex. Or voodoo.
I don’t remember The Day of the ceremony or when they cast the spell. I don’t know if there was a kettle steaming on an open fire and whether they chanted incantations. I don’t remember any of that. It was likely done when I was too young to remember it – or the hex included a forget spell. (I don’t know how these things work. I’m not the one who’s a witch).
My earliest memory of it goes back to my childhood and how I was doing at school. I was never the sharpest tack in the box and I had trouble with math going all the way back to 2nd or 3rd grade. My parents sat with me at the kitchen table, clearly very frustrated with my lack of progress in understanding something so simple, when one of them recited the curse. I don’t remember if it was my mom or my dad who said, “[j]ust do your best. So long as you do your best, we’ll be happy.”
What? Just do your best? What does that even mean? What does it look like when you do your best? How does it feel? Do you KNOW deep in your soul that you’ve done your best and you could have done no more? Is there some sort of objective test that I don’t know about that you guys use to measure whether any particular effort was your BEST effort? Or, is it a subjective test where you get to decide for yourself whether you did your best? IF that’s the case, I’ve decided that everything I do from now into infinity is the VERY BEST I can do. Period. No need for discussion or reflection. I’m AWESOME. Shut up and get out of my way, loser. It’s decided.
CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?
I only know two things for sure and both prove the insidious nature of trying your best.
Thing One: My parents weren’t offering me parental advice or trying to raise me “right.” THEY CURSED ME! That’s why they said it so much. It was like a renewal incantation that they were obligated to recite to keep the curse fresh. “Just do your best.” “Try your best.” “All we ask is that you do your best.” “We’re satisfied with your effort if you do your best.” “Remember though, no matter how good you are, somewhere there is someone who is better.” (What???? I need a therapist!)
Thing Two: I can’t put my finger on even ONE instance in which I’ve done my best. Even in my most successful efforts I can say, “I could’ve done better. I should have done x instead of y.” By definition, if I could have done better, I haven’t done my best. It’s that simple.
I’ve been CURSED to always do my best AND I’m always incapable of actually doing my best. Nice. Thanks Mom and Dad. That’s just perfect. I should sue for the cost of the lifetime of therapy needed to deal with that paradox.
“So,” you ask, “Pathetic Runner, what does this post have to do with running or anything else, for that matter?”
I’ve been to the gym. I’m taking “classes.” I spin and I cross train (until I get some level of fitness to get back out on the road).
My “teacher” is constantly harping on me to do better and to suck less. She said she would get off my back if only I would try my best.
Until next time,