I’d put odds on the fact that I’m not the only person in our sleepy burg with such a stated goal. Others are trying things too: stop smoking, be more active, spend more time with their families. As a whole, we TRY many things. The more important question is, “Are we DOING them?”
I wish I could remember which wise sage pointed out “trying” is “saying ‘no’ with grace.”
A friend lost into your past surprises you by reappearing while you are squeezing cantaloupes at the grocery store. Pre-ordained ceremonial niceties commence, “How are your kids? What’s your husband doing these days? Are you still working at the same place?” It’s a pleasurable oasis of exchange with someone who used to be close. Yet, after the first few paragraphs, what remains to be said? An awkward silence slithers between you until finally you utter, “Let’s get together and catch up. It’s been too long.”
She replies warmly, “I’ll try and call you next week, OK?”
“Sounds great,” you say before exchanging air kisses, and continuing on your mission of securing the finest produce. You know she won’t call. You know you won’t either.
She could have said, “No, I’m too busy,” or “No, I’m not interested.” Rather than such bluntness, she replies with the socially approved, milquetoast, “I’ll try.”
Underlying her intentions was, “No” — delivered with grace.
In those situations, “I’ll try” is caring; it diffuses rough, confrontational, unkind exchanges. However, in so many other circumstances, we use “try” as a justification for our own unwillingness to change. After all, what if we give up or decide later that the objective takes too much effort? It hurts to boldly state, “I AM losing a few pounds,” only to face questions at a later time when well-meaning friends inquire, “How’s the diet going?” It saves face to be able to reply, “I tried, It didn’t work,” rather than, “I wasn’t willing to do it,” or “I changed my mind.”
In reality, what is there to “try?” Am I actually eating less? Am I really more active? Select one: “yes” or “no.” If I choose to not act on my own words, I am not “trying,” I am simply “not doing.”
Of late, I find myself stating proudly to anyone within earshot what I am “trying” to do. In actuality, I am setting the stage for the excuses I might use at another time.
“I am trying to lose weight,” I say.
My friends nod in agreement, commiserating. “It’s tough, isn’t it?”
“Yes. But I’m really trying hard.”
“Good for you,” they say, “I admire you.”
Yet, my scale has not moved; my waistline has not shrunk. The glaring unavoidable reality is I am not “trying,” I am stagnating. The moment has arrived; it is time to stop “trying” and begin “doing.”
The use of the word “try” is so addictive; it’s tough to ratchet up the commitment to “I’m doing.” But I’m trying.