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.