Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 10/16/2008 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Quitting as a Virtue

Martha's Big Adventure -- Quitting as a Virtue

By Martha Randolph Carr

Our entire childhood is filled with adults telling us to tough it out whether it was the rope climb in gym or cramming for an exam or finding our first big job. Parents are the biggest advocates of the philosophy. They've lived long enough to see that life has some very rough moments and without the ability to hang in there we'll never get to the good stuff. It's no wonder we can hear their voices in our heads when we think about quitting anything.

Well, sometimes leaving is a virtue. Sure, sure, it's time to go when it's an abusive marriage or when a boss is pressuring their employees to do something that's illegal. Neither one of those instances is to be taken lightly and if either of those is you, and you can't muster the courage to leave, write to me with your hometown and we'll figure out how to rally the troops together. No questions asked by me.

However, most of life offers grayer circumstances and most of us are often very reluctant to listen to the inner voice that's incessantly whispering about the exit and instead we hope for a better day. That right there is the definition of insanity.

We have managed to convince ourselves that second-guessing another human being who's also volatile, emotional and all-up-in-there-with-the-drama and then changing our behavior will somehow calm the waters. This is magical thinking that encourages the bad behavior by others because we've let them know we'll not only tolerate their poor choices, we'll mold ourselves to it.

Our focus is no longer on what we can create in our own lives but how we can manage and survive the situation.

Here's an easy test to determine if this is you. When asked the benign question of, 'how are you', non-quitters answer with stories about others as an explanation of how we're doing. It's as if we're saying, when everyone else decides to behave, we'll be fine.

We can also define in very clear terms just how everyone else needs to change in order for life to be great and yet we have missed completely the idea that we can change as well. We don't seem to get that we can pick up and go somewhere else.

We can look for the job that not only pays the bills but enriches our days and we can acknowledge when a relationship is truly over and wish the other person well as we continue on our separate journeys toward someone new.

What stops most people from picking up that idea and running out the door with it is the belief that no better job, no better mate, no better home exists out there for them. They are settling for the crumbs rather than believing in the feast.

So, here's step one toward a new day. First, we understand that just as we are is enough. We may be fragile human beings who are overweight or have a bad haircut and carry around way too many resentments and fears but we're enough. We may forget to always be courteous and are terrified about our lack of financial skills and yet we are still enough - today.

For evermore we are replacing an old message with a new one. We are enough just as we are right at this very moment. No improvements are needed in order to honor ourselves and head out on the path we have always wanted to choose.

All that we need to pack is a belief that a better day awaits us and something bigger has our back. Now, life will keep on happening and providing joys and thrills and sorrows but we will no longer think it is happening to us.

And, for all of those people we have finally quit, we will offer up a very simple prayer. It goes something like this: Bless them right where they are, change me. That's our little reminder that everyone, including us, gets to choose their own path and quitting is sometimes necessary as we figure out what works and what does not.

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. There is more to be lost from standing still than there ever was from risking it all. Today can be your day to stop standing still and waiting for change to find you. Go on, the door is open, it always has been. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: Martha's Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: or visit

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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