Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Excuses...or Reasons?

Many, many years ago, I attended and graduated from the University of Toronto. The Toronto downtown campus I attended was somewhat prestigious, and you had to submit high school marks of a minimum of 85%, if not more, to be accepted at that campus.

It was a place I always wanted to go; there were no questions about it. And my marks were more than good enough to get accepted.

But once I was on campus and a full-time student, I began to see things in a different light.

"Pearl, why'd you choose U. of T.?"

I couldn't say, "Because they have a great pre-meds program" when I wasn't taking sciences. I couldn't say, "Because my brothers went here and I wanted to go here too," ecause that's a lousy reason.

I found the most entertaining -- and seemingly honest -- response: "I'm here because of the architecture and the squirrels."

University of Toronto has a sprawling campus that exemplifies all types of architecture -- modern, cold stone buildings, and dark, gloomy Gothic buildings with turrets and stained glass windows. This blend of buildings was so appealing to me, as was the overflow of squirrels running rampant across the campus lawns and stone walls.

So was "Because of the architecture and the squirrels" an excuse or a reason? Hmmmm....

In the same way, you hear people/men mostly say "I read PLAYBOY for the articles." Uh-huh, and no doubt these same people are reading between the lines.

For many years I would "read" THE NEW YORKER. I put "read" in quotes, because even though the publication featured some wonderful short stories and fillers and tidbits, the main reason I would peruse the magazine was for the cartoons. That is what sold me on its pages. They are some of the most brilliant wordsmiths who apply themselves to those simple pen and ink lines. My journals from years past are filled with cartoons from THE NEW YORKER, cartoons that made a lasting impression on me, enough to destroy an issue of the magazine and tear something out.

There is truly a fine line between reasons and excuses.

My memberships to CURVES was up at the end of March; my husband encouraged me to rejoin (he encouraged me to join in the first place and the day that I was let go from my job and I called him en route home crying, he told me the best thing I could do was go home, get my workout stuff and go to CURVES for that 30 minute circuit -- he was SO RIGHT!), and I said I would, for sure. We are nearing the end of July and I haven't yet rejoined...for what reasons? Oh, I'll wait till after Pesach....I'll wait till the kids are finished school...I'll wait to see how my father is feeling... These are certainly not reasons, but excuses!

People find themselves in relationships -- whether they are marriages or friendships -- that are troublesome. Yet they continue to linger in these relationships, often wearing themselves down for their troubles. These people think they are giving reasons for remaining with these partners, these friends, but when these reasons are closely examined, they are often discovered to be simple excuses.

If you think about it, excuses generally relate back to "I"; they have to do with something about you -- something you're lacking (perhaps confidence?), something you're afraid of (perhaps retaliation from another person?).

Although this post was originally meant to be light-hearted -- I'd thought I'd just incorporated the reasons for my attending the University of Toronto, along with my reason for reading THE NEW YORKER -- it turned into something heavier. I want you each to examine your reasons for doing or not doing certain things. Examine them closely; decide if they are in fact excuses. Then do something about it...or at least try to.

Stop making excuses for things. Start doing. Don't wait for tomorrow or the next day to start or complete a project. Don't wait for that other person to make the first move -- you take that first step toward them.

You will be happier; you will have a sense of accomplishment; you will know that you didn't sit on your tushy, thinking up reasons --EXCUSES! -- for not doing something.
Now...let me think of a reason why I can't heed my own advice!


Avrom said...

And just think... If you had gone to York U, you wouldn't have that excuse. (Most of the architecture there ranges from "concrete blah" to "concrete meh" with a few exceptions.)

Val said...

WOW... what a great post. I hear ya on the reasons v excuses and have been trying to get off my tush and DO things. Thanks for the reinforcing "pep" talk! :)

torontopearl said...

While nearing the end of the post, I recalled bits and pieces of an Erma Bombeck piece that has made its way around the blogosphere. It also relates to the topic. Here it is:
If I Had My Life To Live Over
by Erma Bombeck

The following was written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out that she had cancer.

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

A very interesting post Pearl...There certainly is a fine line...Motivation can be such a great propellent...I just know that when I am highly motivated there are no reasons for "excuses"....

About my garden...It is such a wonderful place of peace and ssrenity and inspiration. And the older I get, the more I appreciate the things of nature that surround me. Like what is happening around here right now!

cruisin-mom said... are a genious....great post!

Wendy said...

This is so true...thanks. By the way, the squirrels at my college were a draw too. Until one bit me! Seriously!

Off to the gym I go!

Sweettooth120 said...

(great post) but this comment has nothing to do with the subject ... per se. Just that it reminded me of the first time I ever saw a black squirrel - sightseeing in Toronto.

Creepy little creatures. : )