I read a blog post the other day having to do with support systems for writers. It got me thinking, because I had a lousy one. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone, and yet it just plain sucks that people can’t back each other up. Usually it’s for selfish reasons, too. Jane wants to write the Great American Novel, but Joe realizes that if Jane is at the computer two hours a day, that’s two hours a day she won’t be spending with him. Never mind that his idea of “spending time together” means sitting in front of the television, watching baseball while she knits and semi-watches too. Productive? If you want a sweater, sure, but if you want a novel written, no.
A writer I follow on Facebook asked about The Biggest Loser yesterday, too. It hit a nerve for me because of 80-something responses, most were, “Oh, I hate that show. The trainers are too hard. The workouts aren’t realistic. These people should be spending time with their families instead.”
I call bullshit to all that. First of all, the trainers have to be hard. No one’s kicked these people’s asses over however long it took for them to gain the weight, and someone has to. Coddling doesn’t get the work done.
Yes, the workouts aren’t realistic. Call it “reality TV” if you want but this is television, people. These folks are taking a time out in their lives to correct something that went wrong over an extended period of time. The fantasy of it is that they CAN spend eight hours a day working out and learning to eat right. (Notice, if you watch the show, that they’re also learning to deal with the internal reasons why they gained the weight. That’s major.) Yes, no regular person with a normal family and work schedule can take off eight hours a day and spend it at the gym unless they change careers and become personal trainers. I take an hour a day to hit the gym. It’s what I can manage, my life goes on otherwise, and most everyone around me isn’t inconvenienced by it.
As for spending more time with the family? Does sitting on the couch, watching mindless television count? It shouldn’t. If I go to the gym and lose the weight, I’m healthier. I might live longer, so I *can* spend more time with my family. We can do things together that don’t involve trying to push me off the couch because without human assistance, I need a crane to do it. Sure, it means I’m away from them for an hour a day plus travel time. They seem to manage. I’m not indispensable (though, being a mom, I’m damn close). I raised the boys so that they can take care of themselves for extended periods of time, and if I want to run 10 miles intead of 5, they’re not going to wither and die without me. More than that, I’m giving them an example they can emulate: a parent who puts time and effort into bettering herself, keeping healthy, and staying active. I’d much rather they copy that than a couch potato who’s available 24/7 with a bag of chips in each hand. To suggest I should spend that hour with the boys instead of on myself is just making excuses for being lazy, dammit.
That kind of time investment requires a support system. I want better for the boys than I had for myself, so I’ll be there to encourage them in whatever they choose to do. Even if I know it’s destined for failure. Even if I know that, should they achieve their goal, the struggle will be damn near impossible and even once they achieve it, it won’t result in a lifetime of ease and leisure. I only want them to do what makes them the happiest people they can be.
It’s kind of sad that I didn’t have that kind of backup when I said I wanted to write. Instead I had someone around me who saw my gain as his loss. That’s a selfish view, if you ask me. The whole point of parntership is to support the other person, not because you benefit but because when you see them benefit, it makes you feel good. As Dr. Phil said, “A relationship works insofar as it meets the needs of the two people involved.” If you’re happy at the other person’s expense, something’s not working here, people.
Now get your butt off that chair and run a lap!