The freedom to walk away

There is a certain freedom in giving up on something.

On taking one last, long, regretful look at it and saying “You know what? I’ve given it my all. I’ve tried. It’s not going to change, no matter how much more time and effort I put into it.”

And then you take the steps needed to walk away.

My parents drilled into me an exceptionally strong work ethic. No matter how hard or tough or bad or unpleasant something became, no matter how dark and deep that water was getting, you never gave up. You kept trying to improve it, change it into something better, for yourself and everyone else involved in it. You just hunkered down and gave it your all, to invoke the cliche.

But sometimes, your all just isn’t enough. You spend a solid year working on something, you try to solve it, you devote hundreds of extra hours to it – and in the end, there’s nothing more you can do about it.

Because the other parties involved don’t want it to change.

When you hit that wall (hopefully not at an excessive speed), continuing the effort isn’t adhering to a good work ethic, it’s just being plain stupid. You have to accept that the situation isn’t going to change.

And then decide whether to stay – or move on.

In one area of my life, I now accept that I have to walk away. I’ve poured my heart, my energy, my not-inconsiderable intelligence and experience and creativity into it. It’s been a year. I took a hard look at it again today and realized – nothing has changed. Nothing will change. The power to change it is not within my control. The parties who have that control look at the situation and either don’t see the change that’s needed – or see it and, frankly, just don’t care to change it.

It’s the classic case of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

When that happens, you can do one of two things. The solution so many people seem to choose is ‘close your mouth and endure in silence.’ And many situations warrant that approach – because they offer enough benefits in exchange for the inconvenience, annoyance and/or hardship to be endured.

That’s not the case here.  There are benefits, but honestly, I saw today that they don’t outweigh what I’ll have to continue dealing with if I continue on this course.  Having led the horse to the pond, it’s just standing here, looking at me.  I know it’s not going to drink. It may stand there forever, or it may choose to bite me.

It goes against my every instinct, but I have to say – it’s time. Time to change what I can control, which is my interaction, my continued participation, with it.

I realized that around 6 this evening. I expected to feel sad, to feel regret, to feel grief.

I didn’t expect to feel happy.

But I do. I gave it everything, and I can walk away without regret. The relief of having finally made a decision about it, of having accepted that it is futile to keep trying, is incredible.

Now I just have to stick to my resolution and walk as fast as I can.

This is me walking very fast.

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