I Give Up . . .


Photo by Kary Schumpert

Have you ever just wanted to give up? On a job, on a situation, on a crossword puzzle, on a math problem, on a book you’re reading, on writing something, on a friend or loved one, on a habit?

I’m there. I’ve been at this point all day and I decided to do it, to give up. This situation has been going on in my life for almost as long as I can remember and I have been trying to solve it for quite some time. I finally just decided that I am done. I am done with this situation. I am done trying to solve it. I am done trying to make it better. I give up.

Usually, I don’t think of quitting as a good thing. However, once I decided today to give up, around 3:30 this afternoon, I feel like the weight of a freight train is off my chest and off my shoulders. The situation isn’t any better, but I feel tremendously better.

To be clear, I am not giving up on life, or anything like that. I am giving up on a situation that feels impossible to solve, to make better, to improve.

Have you ever stepped away from a seemingly-impossible-to-solve crossword puzzle and then come back a few hours later and you suddenly have the answer to the clue that was stumping you? Sometimes it’s the time away that provides the solution, the clue percolating in the back of your mind. Sometimes it just helps to stop trying too hard. Sometimes the answer was there all along, but you needed some time and perspective to find it.

Whether it’s a missing puzzle piece, a decision that seems impossible, or a knot in a necklace, it helps to take a break and give yourself some time. It can also help to do something else for a bit, even just a few deep breaths and stretches.

I am not sure if I am going to come back to this problem situation to solve it. I don’t think a quick walk is going to give me the perspective I need. Giving up, though, gives me relief, even if the situation is not any better. Right now, the surrender has given me peace. Believe it or not, I feel okay with the hell-hole that is this situation, right now. Maybe the key is “right now.”

After what feels like a lifetime of trying to solve this, feeling frustrated with the temporary peace that periodically comes when everything has been swept under the rug, I don’t care to solve it. Right now, it is unsolvable and it has been for years.

I can vaguely remember that there is the same as thing in Star Trek, so I had to pause to look it up. I like Star Trek, but I’m not a die-hard fan. I mostly remember watching reruns of the original show that played after Saturday Night Live and a couple of the movies when I was in high school. Anyway, at some point in the show or the movies, there was something called the “Kobayashi Maru.” It was a supposedly impossible problem given to test the students in the Starfleet Academy. Okay, I’m not in the Star Trek universe, but I love the idea of an impossible problem for training.

My own “Kobayashi Maru” feels impossible at the moment and it feels wonderful to give up on it for now. I also know that this problem has been plaguing me for years and it has only grown as time has passed, and possibly grown bigger due to the ways I’m trying to live with it, solve it, eliminate it. I know that this is part of my training as a human. Will I eventually come back and be able to solve the problem? Will I be able to find lasting peace even without a solution?

While the problem is impossible, giving up on the problem and putting down my burdens feels amazing. I do know that continuing to do something the same way, while expecting a different result doesn’t work. It’s also insanity.

Maybe the problem isn’t for me to solve. Maybe I just need to make peace with the situation. Maybe by not forcing things, I can eventually come up with something that will work.

For now, though, I give up. I release my burden. I will pray and meditate and give myself some time. Lots of time.

5 Comments

  1. I moved on from a problem recently. I was giving up, but it was also incredibly freeing. I don’t know what your impossible problem is, but I wish you peace and resolution.

  2. …trying too hard… That’s one phrase that jumped out at me. It’s surprising how often we—well, at least I—do that, and usually without realizing it. Yes, there’s a time to let things go. 🙂

  3. I have been in many situations where I felt frustrated with something I was working on would not gell. What I usually did to resolve those situations was to obtain a good night’s sleep and the next day find someone to help me resolve the issue at hand. These frustrating situations were especially true when I was in graduate school. To render ourselves’ a respite to help resolve a difficult situation is very expedient.

    A well presented essay.

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