Guest Post – Tracy Mangold – Why, oh, Why God, do I do this to Myself?

Why, oh, Why God, do I do this to Myself?

When Matt asked us to write a guest post answering this question, I have to admit, I had no clue what to write about. I knew I wanted to do a guest post because Matt is one of the most fantastic people I know. And to be featured on his site is an honor indeed. So thanks Matt – thank you for allowing me to be part of your guest posting series. Matt constantly inspires me with his creativity – his talent, his outlook on life – and his never-ending ability to make me chuckle. I keep telling him he needs to have his own comic strip and column in the newspaper.

In terms of the question, “Why, oh, why God, do I do this to myself?” I ask myself this quite often – especially when I’ve volunteered to do something only to find out I’ve bitten off more than I thought could chew but plodded on anyway despite my intense fears and overwhelming self-doubt.

I asked this question the first time I climbed the 100 foot ladder leading up to my fire tower. I am afraid of heights and once I had reached the level on the ladder just above the tree tops, I saw my life flash before my eyes. My heart raced and I felt like a porcupine clinging for its dear life to a tree as the wind gusts and pushes around it. And then, I took a breath, silently recited a few lines of Robert Services’ poem, The Quitter, opened my eyes and saw – really saw – the most amazing view. My heart stopped pumping like a jackhammer. I knew quitting wasn’t an option. It’s not in my vocabulary. I would never climb down from that fire tower a quitter. I would climb down and climb back up again day after day for as long as I had the job. And I grew to love it.

I asked this question once again when I got pregnant with our daughter. Getting pregnant is the fun part, telling everyone is pure joy and then there is the reality of morning sickness, extreme fatigue, back pain, sciatica, sleeplessness, strong aversion to once favorite foods, weird hair growth and other bodily “abnormalities” that you are unaccustomed to and let us not forget to mention the fact that you become a human Niagara Falls once your water breaks. And of course – the delightful “discomforts” of labor and the moment you realize where they came up with the term “ring of fire”. 

I remember lying flat out on the floor one night in the early stages of my pregnancy – the room spinning and churning around me, asking WHY GOD – WHY on earth did I VOLUNTARILY do this to myself? For an instant I placed all the blame for my condition firmly on my husband but as they say, it takes two to tango, so I merely groaned and clung to the floor in hopes of finding gravity. And then I felt my little one move inside me and was reminded – yes I can do this and YES it is all worth it.

Living in general is a lot like that. I ask myself why on the bad days when all hope seems lost – WHY are we put through this – to experience loss – to lose loved ones and friends – financial stress – to be put through sickness and trials and tribulations – to watch our parent age – why? I didn’t ask for this! So why? And for all too many things there are no answers. Only questions.

The key is to keep asking – to never stop asking – to never give that sneaky old devil Complacency/Apathy the ability to take up residence in our heart. That would be death to our spirit. So we plug on. We ask WHY GOD OH WHY but then we take a deep breath and we find things to keep us going. We create, we build, we love, we LIVE. We find the courage to send our creations, our words, our feelings – OURSELVES out into the world. We face strong criticism at times and are unfairly judged – sometimes harshly so, but for every negative, there is that ONE positive reaction (at least one) that knocks all the bad things out of the ballpark and makes it all worth it. That’s why we keep going, keep pushing, keep on creating and keep living.

The why suddenly doesn’t matter so much anymore. And instead we ask ourselves HOW we can do this and we respond, “to the best of our abilities.”


Tracy Mangold is an amazing woman who writes over at Inkytwig! You should read her poems, view her photos, and make her your friend. She’ll probably be one of your biggest cheerleaders.