Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tried and True

Full disclosure: I did a 6:30 a.m. Bikram class this morning, so I’m all about the positivity today. And now, I’m going to share it with the four of you who read this blog.

That's right, big news on the blog front—massive really: I got another reader! So that brings the grand total to four! At this pace, some sort of branding effort might be in order: visors, key chains, maybe bunting…I’m just spitballin’ here.

But I digress.

It’s June, graduation time. For the youngsters, it’s time for the pool, or, if you’re like me, dance camp. For those graduating from high school, maybe there’s some separation anxiety swirling about your household. But today I’m thinking about the crop of young adults who are graduating college, looking to start their careers.

Now, this isn’t a commentary on the economy or employment prospects for these young folks. It’s actually about trying. I heard something in yoga the other day. It was a particularly steamy class and it was packed, which just made everything hotter. There was a fair amount of frustration on the mats for many people and amidst the grunting and heavy exhales, the teacher said the dearest thing: He said that it didn’t matter what the outcome of a posture was—maybe you’ll wobble, maybe you’ll fall out, maybe you won’t get to the full expression—what matters is your effort, that you try as hard as you can. And that’s where you have to be really truthful with yourself, in that effort, in really showing up in that moment and trying as hard as you can.

Which brings me to my disaster of a dinner last night (stick with me, this will all tie together, I promise). I kind of pride myself on making a kickin’, healthy dinner every night (or most nights, anyway). It’s not a weird Stepford wife thing, it’s more of my hobby, my passion. A passion that I get *really* into in a go to the greenmarket, buy only organic, read the labels in the grocery store, eat seasonally kind of way. You know, except when we order pizza.

Anyhow, I had it in my head to make a healthy stir fry. There was going to be a sambal sauce. I was going to use sprouted tofu, organic broccoli and brown rice. I was breaking out the lemongrass and ginger. It was going to be transcendent.

One hour later, after grating, chopping, measuring, pureeing, cooking down, I had a pan full of something that looked like cat sick. And that’s how it tasted. So I opened up the refrigerator and starting adding what I was sure would bring this saucy mess back from the brink. The addition of honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar, orange juice, peppadew juice (I know, pure desperation), chopped peppadews (beyond desperate) and teriyaki didn’t help one bit. You see where this is heading, right? Yep, down the drain.

And yet, I tried.

Of course, I don’t mean to equate one night of culinary failures on what graduates are facing today, but here’s the thing: If these young people are anything like me, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error in the next year or so. When I graduated, it was clear that I’d poured precious little time while in school thinking of my real-world life once I got out. But I knew I wanted to write. So like any good English major, I went back to school, got some practical knowledge and some hands-on experience. I kept trying, kept climbing—in some cases, literally: I actually got to go to the top of the Chrysler Building and stand out on scaffolding when workers were shining it—all because I was persistent in getting an interview, in seeing this place that not everyone gets to see.

When I was a journalist, the journey wasn’t over. Much like other fields, you had to keep learning, doing, seeing and growing. If you didn’t write about different things, stretch your comfort zone or keep expanding your knowledge base, you’d languish. It was the same thing the years I was an editor. Now I’m working on fiction writing. There is no easy road here, no quick way to publication, and, since I’ve never done this type of writing before, I’ve had a lot to learn. The point is to keep trying.

And so this concept of striving to do your best seems a fitting theme for today when so many are graduating, embarking on real world stuff. There will be days when you wobble, when you feel so spent that you can’t go any further. And yes, there will be days when you make things that look like cat sick. But keep trying. Just try. That’s all you have to do is try your hardest. Success will come with effort.

And if it doesn’t, you can always order take-out.



  1. A lot of wisdom in this post. Building momentum by continuing to try is the only way to get through the downturns sometimes.

  2. Hi Monica, I read your blog, so you have at least five readers! I love this post about effort. In Buddhism, they talk about striking a balance between effort and relaxation. I think yoga and finding a job and life in general are about that, too--striving and then letting go and then striving some more. Poor kids. If I were 21 now, I'd go overseas.
    I hope you're well.

  3. Em! Can't tell you how delighted I was to see you here! The Buddists get so much right, so beautifully and serenely, don't they? I think about you often and hope all is well with you!

  4. This post is so amazingly inspirational. I think we all need to hear this from time to time as writers. You just have to keep at it and keep trying.

    I bet you have more readers than you know, Monica! I think a lot of people lurk and never comment.

    Had so much fun in NYC with you and Andrea and Carrie!

  5. This post really deserves to be highlighted on Yahoo's home page,(or maybe Google's homepage) it is absolutely beautiful!