Monday, November 24, 2014

20 Miles a Day

I’m having doubts about my writing…serious doubts.  Sometimes I feel like it hasn’t gone anywhere for a long time.  Sometimes this feels like a marathon.  Steven Pressfield took almost 30 years before he got noticed.  Some writers never get noticed.  Still… I don’t care.  Even with my doubts, I have made the decision to keep writing. 
I am also doing a lot more reading.  I’ve made the commitment to read at least 30 pages a day.  I’ve only missed one day of that so far.  What I’ve learned is that I don’t have time to waste.  Even when I think I have a lot of spare time, I don’t.  When I don’t use my free time wisely, because I think I have time to spare, something almost always happens to make me regret not using my time more constructively.  When I do use my time well, it often seems to multiply and when it doesn’t, then I’m even happier that I used it well.
Oddly, I learned this concept a long time ago, but I had forgotten it.  But now I remember the event and what I learned.
Over fifteen years ago I did a 3-day, 60-mile walk for breast cancer.  I did it for no other reason than I thought it would be fun to walk 60 miles.  I’m not sure if “fun” is the word I’d use to describe my experience.  Perhaps the word “educational” or “enlightening” was closer to the mark.  I was also motivated by the idea that this would unify my co-workers because there was a lot of unpleasantness at my the-current workplace.  That didn’t happen.  In fact, my two strongest opponents to the idea were a feminist and a woman who was dealing with breast cancer.  I also had to raise funds and that took a lot of time and effort.  Despite the obstacles and setbacks, I raised what I needed.  I filled out my paperwork and I was ready.  There was only one thing I didn’t do – train for the walk.
Yes, I walked, usually every day.  In fact, I even walked one day when I had the flu.  But I didn’t really know how to train to walk 20 miles a day for three days in a row.  I had done a 20-mile walk when I was in my 20’s, but that was only one day; this would be three. 
But the day came and the walk was on.  My first day was difficult and slow.   There were lots of rest stops with lots of friendly people and I stopped at most of them, thinking I had plenty of time.  At around the 18th mile, I was feeling extreme pain in my ankle and I had to stop for a while, but then I continued and finished for the day.  I couldn’t sleep because there were people all around me and some of them were snoring loudly.  I finally found a place off by myself and fell asleep.
The second day was the hardest.  There were a lot of hills and the walk was actually 22 miles that day to compensate for the two miles we wouldn’t walk the next day, which would be 18 miles.  Again, I stopped at every pit stop and got water or socialized with others, still thinking I had plenty of time.  It was very slow going.  At the end of the day I was exhausted and discouraged.  I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to finish the next day.  We were fed and entertained.  During the entertainment, an aerobics instructor coached us on how to walk more effectively in these kinds of events.  I finally got the training I needed. 
The next day I had a lot more enthusiasm…and a plan.  There were two parts to my plan.  First I was going to use the aerobics instructor’s advice on how to walk more effectively.  Second, I wasn’t going to stop unless I had to eat or use the restroom.  I was going to take advantage of every moment.  It’s good to have enthusiasm and it’s good to have a plan, but the two together are unbeatable. 
On the third day I did my best time.  I walked faster and more confidently and I wasted very little time.  Instead of taking eight hours to finish, I finished in about six.  Even with the shorter course, that was a good time, because I used my time well.  Coming in at the finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life.
At the beginning of this blog, I said I had serious doubts about my writing.  Those doubts don’t matter.  I’m still using my time well.  I’m still going fast and furious and not letting anything, not even doubts or fear, keep me from reaching my goals.  Today I felt particularly frustrated and I thought, “Why aren’t I there yet?”
I’m probably not where I want to be because I’m not ready yet.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not working towards it.  Unlike the 3-Day Walk, I’m training this time.  I’m working every day.  Every day I Get Started and I Keep Going…even if I have to walk 20 miles a day.