Notes On Getting There


One of those weird colloquialisms that I heard a lot growing up was the phrase “I’m getting there.” Normally uttered in response to the banal greeting “How’s it going?”, “I’m getting there” can mean a lot more than the three words initially imply. Read at face value, telling someone that you’re “getting there” means that you’ve been travelling (physically or emotionally) and you’re nearing your destination. Typically, however, the tone of voice changes the meaning of the phrase somewhat. A sigh, slight shake of the head, and an exasperated tone turn “my present journey is nearing a favorable completion” into “I’m overwhelmed, and don’t see an end” or maybe “I’m way behind in life, but I’m holding out a little hope”. The implication in most cases, of course, is that the hope isn’t well-founded.

My mother is an unrepentant optimist, and my father leans heavily towards pessimism. As a result of the blend, I became a realist, though I do have a slight optimistic streak. Every now and then, when I reflect on whether I’m actually “getting there” or not, my inner monologue channels my father’s voice. I feel that I will never actually get anywhere. But most of the time, I’m fair and balanced, and realize that though certain obstacles might seem insurmountable for awhile, there’s typically a way to break through. I will get there. In some ways, I’m already there.

The process of “getting” has nothing to do with trying harder, but rather with understanding that I’m already achieving, and that I’m allowed to reflect on that with pride. I can stop concentrating on all of the ways that I haven’t reached my goals, because I HAVE reached so very many of them, and am doing everything within my power to get to the rest.

In a few weeks, I’ll be 33. What will I do when I get there? Will I spend another year feeling down about being overweight, or will I take the necessary steps to finally get in shape? Will I sit down and write that book I’ve been talking about? Will I go on pilgrimage? Will I get control of my work/life balance? Will I find my spiritual center, and make a bigger effort to connect to the world around me? All I can say for sure is that I’m going to get there. I’ve been on my way for awhile now.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. treatwilliams says:

    Like Flaubert said, rising to a challenge is more ‘glorious’ a moment than success. My uncle was very big on that when I spoke to him the other day and it seems right to me. Wise owl has spoken. You the man. Really hope you have a nice 33rd.

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you! I’ll have to look up some more Flaubert quotes – sounds like your uncle’s a cool guy. (Maybe it runs in the family? 🙂

      1. treatwilliams says:

        It’s possible yeah. What can I say.

  2. doug says:

    Also remember that the allure of pessimism is that it looks and feels more realistic. Think of all thee dark, “realistic” dramas that feature no sense of humor and preposterously dark scenarios. Real life isn’t that interesting. It’s equal parts good, bad, and mundane. Hopeless is just as exciting as a dream world. Life isn’t exciting. It just is.

  3. Anna says:

    You know me – I like the details. For me, “mundane” typically falls into the realm of “good”. It helps me put a positive spin on the basics. Yay for Excel! Yay for washing dishes!

    I do think that there’s perhaps a bit more opportunity for excitement out there than you’re admitting to, but I see the point that life is existence, and any emotion (including excitement) that we assign to it is solely an internal construct. I am very rarely truly excited about positive things (positive tends to calm me down, but maybe that’s why I seek the mundane), and I do realize that I’m often overstimulated by negative things.

    Life is a balancing act, and I’m lucky that I’m always able to rationalize, see past what my body is saying about my stress level, and how that’s affecting my fight or flight reflexes. Sometimes there’s nothing to do but ride out the anxiety, but that’s a whole other story. For right now, it’s about self-love. Because how can you love me more if I can’t love myself a little? 🙂

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