Quitter

The first time that I remember quitting was when I was nine years old. I left little league football, not because I didn’t want to play.  I did.  I had the usual football heroes like Roger Staubach and Archie Manning, which probably only reflects my age and NFL geographical area more than anything else.

The real reason I quit football at the mature age of nine was to punish my dad for being a chronic alcoholic.  Although he would also stop (drinking that is) in a year or so, he was still living life as a sloppy and sometimes angry drunk. For some reason, I didn’t appreciate having an occasionally violent and sloppy drunk for a dad. Knowing just how much he wanted me to play and to be successful, although he didn’t know that I’d never rise above 5 feet 9.5 inches, I decided to punish him and quit.

No chance for a budding career in college or pro if I didn’t play.  So when the coach eventually called to check on me for missing practice, I told him that I quit.

“That’ll teach him,” I thought.

But here’s the problem with quitting.  It becomes easier as time goes on.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes quitting is necessary.

Say you’ve been puffing away at two packs of aromatic cigarettes for years. With the right amount of motivation or nicotine substitute, you might be able to quit and recover some semblance of a normal life. Alcoholics can also quit.

On a completely different topic, once a nurse asked if I smoked as part of her standard screening questions. I said no, but was willing to try. She laughed, and I was glad to provide a little comic relief.

But quitting simply to hurt others is just immature.

Sometimes we quit because we’re scared of something. I have a friend who once brought his fiancée a wax rose (he couldn’t find an open florist – or so he said).  There’s nothing quite like like trying to express commitment in the gift of a fake rose. He eventually got cold feet and canceled their wedding. In other words, he quit.

Unfortunately, I’ve used the quit routine several times through the years with jobs, people, and half-finished blog posts. Sometimes it was the right thing to do.  Many times it was not.

I wish I had not quit playing football when I was nine. I also wish that my dad had never hit the bottle either. And finally, I wish I had not quit 9th-grade algebra back in the 12th grade, but we all have to play with the hand we’ve been dealt.

So, my advice is don’t quit. Well, unless you have to.


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