Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Perseverance


I am having all sorts of trouble being creative, strong, and interesting today. I'm anxious. There are probably reasons. The weather. Sleep or lack of same. The three-day break. My wife's health. That I didn't run yesterday. That I can't imagine running in today's weather without having slept. And so on. But of course, none of that really matters unless somehow knowing what brought this mood on would cure it. I don't have much faith in that. Instead, I'm interested in making something happen.

Not for the first time, I didn't want to write today. I've been anxious about writing all day. These are the first words I've written other than two official emails. I did not write creatively this morning. Talk about anxious.

Being creative -- not in the magical sense of having some sort of power that other mortals fail to have, but in the sense of creating things -- is good work, but it is daunting. This is the 101st day in a row I have written 750 words and it's the 78th or 79th day I have posted those words. I feel today about like R.E.M. must have felt when they decided that was it, that they had nothing good enough left to say.

Today, anxiety has been a physical affliction. I find myself looking at the clock, calculating the minutes remaining before the next deadline. Yesterday I wrote that everyone should be able to make time in the day to create a cup of coffee rather than use some automatic system or buy one at a drive-thru. Today, I have trouble believing there is enough time to do anything, that I have anything worthwhile to offer.

This is the sort of thing that can stop me dead. It's what happens when I face change and feel unprepared for it. It's what happens when I come up against a hurdle and feel powerless to get over it. It's what happens when I choose to become a victim and let the world run over me.

This is also the sort of thing that writing alleviates. Running too. Day before yesterday, I ran in the freezing cold without shoes. I wore shorts, a long sleeve shirt, jacket, gloves and a hat. I set out to run five miles. Three-quarters of a mile in, I thought I would have to turn around. My bare feet felt numb. The three middle toes on my left foot had gone especially dead and I worried that I might do myself harm. I didn't want to turn around because I would hear from my family that I was a fool to run barefoot in the winter.

I didn't know what to do.

In that moment of decision, I was still running. If I had stopped to think, my feet would have gotten colder and I would have been in trouble. I kept running and thinking. I decided to trust in my experience. I ran on. A mile and a half in, my feet were fine. The toes were warmed, the soles of my feet felt great, and I wanted to run and run more. I did six and a half miles and could have gone longer. I felt energized that it had gone so well, that I was so happy, and that I had trusted myself and my ideas.

I'm over 750 words now and though this is in no way my best piece, it has shown me again that pushing through is the way. Had I kept looking at the clock, I wouldn't have taken the extra minutes to write my way into these conclusions. And if I had stayed still, nothing good could have happened.

I still feel most of the anxiety I woke with this morning. It's not as though it magically disappears. Instead, it is there, but I am moving, step by step through the frozen world, word by word across the barren page in the continuing project I have going here to always write on.