The Little Engine that Could (but should it?)

Today was one of those days. You know the kind. Those days when you know the smart thing to do is to stay in bed, but you have important stuff to do, and you just can’t be wasting your day in bed. Those are days when you are miserable from the pain all day long, and spend it cursing yourself for your stubbornness. I had one of those days today.

I woke up this morning with my knuckles looking like walnuts and my knees looking like melons. Everything hurt, and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I had missed class today. Yet, I insisted on getting myself out of bed. I told myself that I was forcing myself to go because I really needed to learn from class discussions and because I didn’t want to add yet another test to the growing list of exams I needed to make up. Well, mind over matter, I ended up at school.

10 hours later I returned home and collapsed into bed. As I slowly woke up a few hours later and lay in bed stretching and trying to get my joints loosened enough to get up and eat dinner, I started thinking about this morning’s decision. Why did I REALLY get out of bed beyond my better judgment? Why do we do this to ourselves when we know we’re stretching beyond our limits and we know the consequences? I didn’t want to be the unreliable student who was out sick AGAIN. I was worried that they would think I’m crying wolf. I was sick and tired of needing to stay in bed in the first place.

My whole life, every time I was discouraged, my parents would remind me of the children’s story of the Little Engine that Could. It’s been so ingrained in me to force myself to get where I need to go that I just force myself to get there. There are days like today that I dig down and remember that story and my parents encouragement and get myself where I need to go. Or, at least, where I think I need to go. The question is: should I be going there? Just because I can force myself to do it, is it really the best decision? Maybe sometimes the Little Engine that Could should choose not to.

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