“It is better to rust out than wear out.” -Edwin Markham
I often read quotes when I’m stuck for something to write. I love quotes! It’s like taking a bite of rich chocolate cake when you’re not in the mood for the whole thing. Most of the time, I can relate to quotes or find them to be profound in some way. I saw this quote, and thought, “No!”
Maybe I’m looking at this from the perspective of relative youth, but I don’t want to rust. To me, rusting sounds like you’re sitting around, trying to keep what’s there preserved. Rust is something that happens to you.
My husband loves cars, and gets excited by the elusive “garage queen,” which means that the car is low mileage, barely driven, and was kept in the garage. It was essentially preserved, and I wonder, “why?” Why get something for power and performance, and let it sit? Why not use it for what it was made for?
I’m not careless with my body. I’m a mostly-vegetarian who keeps my body and brain active. I’m getting age aches, and sometimes I’m stiff when I get up in the morning, but I can walk miles, love learning new things, and try to spend time with people and doing things I love.
I’m not trying to wear myself out. I try to take care of myself. But how can I reach my full potential if I’m “rusting?” If I’m sitting idle, waiting for things to happen TO me? I don’t believe I can. I believe that in order to succeed, I have to take risks, push myself. Sometimes that means I’m going to get bruises, both physically and emotionally, but that’s how I learn. I learn by doing, by succeeding, and by failing.
There’s nothing wrong with rusting, if you’re doing it mindfully, if that’s your choice, and that’s what you want to do. For me, I’m going to burn my decorative candles, drive my car, risk getting moisture rings on my good wooden furniture. And I’m going to wear myself out. One day, all I’ll have left could be memories of those times, and what is there to remember if I’ve sat around rusting?