The main question here today is: What is a person willing to go through to win? Pain, humiliation? Desperate exhaustion? Yesterday, I put my consummate Samurai skills to the test and felt all these things in a heart-stopping one minute game at a Halloween party. The game involved using rubber bands to shoot empty soda cans off a table (see Minute-to-Win-It on nbc.com—very fun minute-long games that should be played at all future parties, regardless of theme). I thought that I knew how to flick a rubber band, but dag-nabit, the things kept hitting the knuckle of my pointer finger before flipping off in unknown directions. OW. Every single time. No, I did not give up, but kept on painfully flicking my own finger off. Unfortunately, my Samurai armor (which I was wearing, yes) did nothing to protect me in this instance. Or later, in a competition that involved stacking up plastic cups into a pyramid and then sliding them back down into a neat little stack in practically no time flat. I found that I was definitely running with some serious imposition as my slightly gimpy left hand began to shake a little under the effort of prying apart my stuck together cups while holding the stack at the same time. I felt like a drug addict without her fix as I shakily stacked stupid household items toward a nearly meaningless purpose. I hoped no one was noticing my inability to stand and stack without trembling exhaustedly and continued to pursue the win like you wouldn’t believe. I was winning… and then one of the other competitors crippled my cup pyramid because he could see that he was clearly losing. It was funny when it happened. But there was also a kind of mental thud as I came back to myself and realized I needed to sit down from all this futile effort.
It is possible that much of my effort is passed in futility. I expend effort to finish a book or a movie that will have no bearing on future events of any great moment. I painstakingly write a blog post every day so friends won’t have to ask me all the same questions all the time, only to have them ask at parties, thus making it clear that they haven’t looked at my blog since the first week. I make food for my child that she will not eat. I carefully file my paperwork only to find I can't find a single thing when I need it. I go for walks every day with no goal in mind other than finding a route that doesn’t completely overlap itself. I spend an hour and a half making a Samurai Halloween costume out of a cardboard box. Because my energy and my time are very finite right now, I find this expending of futile energy particularly frustrating. So, the follow-up question: how to make my life more meaningful and fulfilled—especially now that I do indeed have a second chance at it?