Several years ago, I was meeting with a producer that I’d known since leasing him an EV1 about a decade before. I was talking quickly, catching him up on the EV world in the time he had between meetings. The EV1 vigil had just ended, and not how we’d hoped– but we’d picked ourselves up and were about to take on Toyota and save the RAV4 EVs. “Who Killed the Electric Car?” was in the works, though it was too soon for any of us to know if it would ever see the light of day. Meanwhile, I’d signed on as the first (and during my stint, only) employee of the Automotive X PRIZE, and was deeply but enthusiastically absorbed in trying to make something meaningful out of it.
Abruptly, he interrupted my ramble. “You know, you’re my hero.” Confused, I looked back at the guy with several blockbuster films under his belt, wondering in what universe he’d be impressed with anything I’d done. The eyebrow that always betrays my attempted poker face crept upward in the pause…
“You just don’t get beat.”
Oh, he’d seen me “lose” repeatedly over the years, each time after throwing myself irretrievably into the effort. But giving up – even when I should – isn’t something I do very well. Too stubborn to burn out for good, I kept coming back to the general mission from a slightly new angle, always with the same lack of temperance. But what I’d understood to be a character flaw apparently looked more like moxie to him. And while I’m sure the remark slipped his mind before I was out to my car, it burrowed into mine.
Like anyone else, I accomplish more on some days than others. Never as much as I think I should; as a result, the only thing I’m an overachiever at is insomnia. Often, “not getting beat” is all I have to show for myself, an acknowledgement that seems composed of equal parts concession and confession.
I’ve been mulling all of this since Michelle Naranjo posted her story about joining the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles. I’d watched her become passionate about this race and the women who participate in it for a year or so; recently, she decided to jump in as a competitor only to have the whole thing go indescribably awry in a mess of convoluted stories and broken trust. This chapter isn’t ending as she’d hoped, but there will be another because she refused to be beat by the experience. She is rightfully proud of that fact, and I am proud of her.
Sometimes “not getting beat” isn’t just the consolation prize. Sometimes it’s all there is, and it’s enough- not because it has to be, but because it actually is. If not for ourselves, then for someone watching.
Now if only it cured insomnia…