A Game of Inches

Some days you wake up filled with hope and other days you wake up filled with fear.

We live in a world of extremes. A world that many of us cannot control and feel frustrated by. A world that very much appears to be spinning into oblivion. And may very well be. But despite all that, we carry on. We shrug off the fear or at least temporarily bottle it up so that we can move along.  But deep inside us, the fear is always there, and the choice is always there too.

Do we give in to the fear and let it destroy our dreams and halt our forward progress? Or do we confront it and in so doing face it down and make it disappear?

It’s one thing to imagine being able to do that. But quite another to put in into practice in your life. It’s hard to do. It requires the ability to fail and pick yourself up again and move on and keep moving. It requires gumption and perseverance. And it requires fierce determination.

These are not necessarily the qualities that many of us have in abundance. But when you think about it, just getting out of bed in the morning and facing the day is, for many of us, a real act of bravery, because it would just be so easy to lay there and think about it, as opposed to doing it.

I have had to spend the last 4 months of my life dealing with this decision in the extreme. Because In my current condition, as a result of spinal surgery, and the amount of time I spend being flat out and sick before that, have weakened my legs to the point of near uselessness.

But every day. I have had to haul myself out of bed, in the hospital and now at home, get myself dressed, eat, wash up, etc, and move on with the day, which consists mainly of about an hour of leg exercises and an ever-increasing amount of time spent not being in bed.

So when I tell you how difficult it is to face the day, I do know what I’m talking about.

But you know what? I do it, every f##king day, 7 days a week. And the more I do it, the better I get at it and the less I think of it as some fear or series of fears I have to conquer. And that’s how it works.

The last doctor I had at Shaver, where I started my rehab, asked me what I had learned from my time there and it all boils down to one thing.

Life moves at its own pace and progress is measured, not in terms of miles or light-years, but in terms of inches, mostly one inch at a time.

So when you are confronting any challenge you have in your life, just remember that nothing good happens fast. The good stuff takes time. The winning takes a lot of trying and getting better in small increments but getting steadily better.

When I look back to the week after my surgery, I was literally unable to get out of bed or do anything else without help. Now, just five months later, I’m pretty much independent, except for reaching stuff in the high cupboards.

But that progress was the result of my own determination and really good people who kept pounding into my head that the road back is long and the traveling speed is dead slow, and if I kept that in mind all the time, I would eventually get there in one fully functioning piece.

And I will. And any of us can. I know that. And I hope you do too.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. Early on in my writing career, I discovered advertising. While the other media have drifted in and out, communications writing and art direction have been the constant through a 20-year career senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource to direct clients, design companies, marketing consultants and boutique agencies. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and opened MurMarketing which is a freelance strategic development/copywriting/art direction service for businesses working to make a positive difference in the world. I currently write long format blogs in 4 different streams, encompassing, entertainment, marketing, and communications, life in general, and the renewable energy and recycling industries. These are currently published on I have, over the years, created more than 1500 blog posts. I live with my wife Heather in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life. I am currently recovering from spinal surgery and learning to walk again.

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  1. As a child, I always thought if I was to be good at something I would try it and automatically be amazing. As an adult, I’ve realized to get good at something, I have to keep doing it over and over again. I have to make mistakes. I have to learn from those mistakes. And I have to be open to taking advice.

    If you have determination, perseverance, and gumption: You can literally do anything.

    Glad to be in the presence of your journey.

    • Yeah, I agree. We moved to a much smaller place than Toronto about 4 years ago. It’s still a city, but 4 cars at a stop light is rush hour madness. Still working to get in synch with that.