What am I talking about, you may wonder again, as you have before. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you, just as I always do—eventually. When I can find my way back to the point of my ramblings. I’m talking about resisting those overwhelming feelings we all have to do things that feel good in the moment, but that we absolutely know are not good in the long run. Or even in the moment immediately following the immediate moment where the bad behavior seems like such a good idea.You know what I’m talking about: the ice cream at the end of the meal, even though we’re trying to lose a few pounds; reading just one more chapter or even just one more page when we know we need to get going to meet another responsibility or just get to sleep so that we won’t be zombies in the morning; or skipping the gym in favor of the local watering hole to meet some friends. That’s what I’m talking about.
But wait, there’s more; diet, sleep and exercise are child’s play compared to the more important decisions we make while under the influence of the compulsion of ease and avoidance of pain and discomfort. What about when we know it’s time to leave a job, or a spouse, or a friend, or just a bad situation? And we don’t. We put it off just a little while longer, kind of like Rose does when she knows she should stake the bad vampire, but she hesitates because she just doesn’t want to do that right this minute. She tells herself she’ll do it in a few minutes. But for Rose, like for us, procrastination is paralysis. But unlike the rest of us, or, maybe it’s just me, Rose gets over her procrastination PDQ and does what she needs to do—even when she is fighting the physical, emotional and mental withdrawal from some pretty potent magic, which works like the best drugs imaginable, giving her an incredible, almost irresistible high. Almost irresistible. As in, not quite, because resist she does, though God only knows where she found the strength, because I sure don’t. I’m just not sure I could be so strong. Could I get up and walk away from something that felt so good, and seemed so real? Surely I’d like to think so, but I doubt myself all the time.
Luckily, we are all given lots of opportunities in our everyday lives to practice this particular form of compulsion resistance. Temptation calls at almost every turn—and we are often in the position to wonder whether we really need to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or because we’re afraid we might get caught if we don’t. If we are honest with ourselves, would we all be completely upstanding citizens if there were no penalty for transgressing? Would we jaywalk? Snag a candy bar without paying? Cheat on a paper or a test? Kiss our sister’s really cute boyfriend if he wanted? Probably not. Or maybe so. Each of us has to answer for ourselves. As I’ve noted many times before, doing the right thing is hard to do. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
That’s what makes Rose Hathaway such an excellent role model, and why I have a teensy swoon going on for her. I want to be just like her. I want to do the right thing, no matter the cost to my heart or my comfort or anything else. But, I have to say, I don’t think I could kill the man I love even if I were convinced it was the right thing to do. The good news is, I don’t have to make that choice today. But I can be inspired by Rose and her willingness to do the hard thing. Because it always helps when we see someone else succeed in doing things we want to be able to do ourselves. If she can do it, maybe so can I.