Thursday, November 24, 2011
I'm typing these words from a motel in the Catskills. We have dined on turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pickles, olives, brie cheese, and more desserts than anyone should ever have. Thankfully, this was all served to us at a restaurant and no one in the family was working in the kitchen all day or will be washing dishes all night. I'm beginning to think that, aside from the enormous cost of such a thing, this is the way to go.
Now we are in our motel room. The girls are on the other bed reading books, my wife is doing whatever she does the night before we go into New York City, and I am sitting on the other bed trying to type. In the middle of this, my wife comes over to tell me that the toilet is likely stopped up and looks at me with that expression that says, "do something." I tell her that it will have to wait, that I'm writing for a few more minutes, and that she can call the front desk if need be. She says she'll try flushing a few more times. So it goes.
This is life on the road. This is life out of sync and in reverse order. I'm tired from having driven most of the day, from staying in odd places, eating all our food from restaurants, and there's the bourbon on the rocks that I had with dinner. I'm full, stuffed really, and ready for some sleep, and yet here I am typing these words. It's that simple fact and the other fact of my early morning run that I want to talk about.
I'm typing these words because I have a streak of forty-something days going on 750words.com. It is impressive how effective a streak is in keeping me doing something. Were it not for the streak, I would have let myself put my head down and been asleep before my girls. Were it not for the streak it would be an easy thing to not write. I'm here, in part, because of that streak and because I'm a little stubborn about such things. I don't want to lose. I don't want to feel disappointed.
By the way, there is no prize for keeping the streak alive. There is nothing at the end of the rainbow, no reward of any obvious sort. There is just me and the feeling I get from doing something (or, in the case of fast food, not doing something) for a long time.
Another kind of motivation that works is to set a goal, spend some money, and let myself know that I have a reason to do the thing other than it is just good for me. Last night, knowing that it would be a struggle to get up a little earlier and go for a run, I saw that there was a charity event online that allowed me to donate some money toward a good cause and run a 5K in the process. I gave the money and pledged to run. Then, lying in bed this morning not wanting to go out and run, I thought of the money I had spent on running and decided to get out of bed and do it. There was just enough motivation in having clicked a box on the web that said, "here's five bucks; I'll run tomorrow."
Motivation is a strange thing. It eludes me all too often, but then, with just the right conditions, I have the right amount. It's that way with writing these words and running this morning. It's that way with not eating fast food and avoiding most meat in my diet. I wonder why it takes motivation to do these things. When I get out and run, I enjoy myself almost every single time. When I write, even when it's going poorly like it is now, I still feel better doing it than I do in almost any other aspect of my life. Still there is that initial moment of having to make a decision that is hard for me. I'll call it inertia at work.
Tonight, I've been wanting to get these words written, so it was just a matter of deciding to sit and do it when the moment came. This morning it was different. I made it downstairs, but I was still undecided. Then, as I was debating the matter in my head, I realized that I was pulling on my underwear. "Hmm, I said," out loud. "I guess I'm going running."
I could use some motivation to go back and edit this piece, to get it to say something clear. But to tell the truth, I'm too damn tired and I think I would end up editing it down to about two hundred words. Tops.
Instead, I'll say, Happy Thanksgiving all. I'm grateful that I ran this morning, that I typed tonight, and that I've been with my family the whole day through.
Posted by Brian G. Fay