Saturday, December 21, 2013

Get 'er done. Or Just Do It. Or something like that.

My third mile analogy is really sticking with me, and I keep reflecting back on the idea, because it's new to me and I feel like I don't fully understand it yet.

Today I went for my long weekend run: ten miles.  Today it is cold and gray, and running in 41 degrees and foggy mist with occasional sprinkles didn't feel inspiring, it merely felt damp and cold.  I put on an extra layer and headed out anyway, but even though I *KNOW* the magic doesn't start until after the third mile, I nearly quit in the first mile, at a mile and a half, at the second mile.  By the end of the second mile I was committed to getting to four miles (I do an out-and-back course), but since that's not any longer than my weekday runs I negotiated with myself to do at least three miles out before turning around, because six miles is so much more respectable than four. 

But by the time I had run three miles - after a particularly brutal third mile, with freezing hands and feeling really and truly uninspired with the "you can't do it you're going to fail you suck you'll never get a job" voice in my head - the magic kicked in.

This happens pretty much every time.  It NEVER happens in mile two, only after mile three.  And I know it.  I wrote about it, for heaven's sake, trying to nail down the words in order to keep their truth.

But knowing it and feeling it are very different, and in miles one, two and three I simply have to fight through it, force myself through the motions, suck it up, push on through, just do it, get 'er done, and there is nothing inspired at all about those miles.

Today's rewards?  A seagull caught a flat fish and I got a really great view of it - stripes on top, a white belly, and the seagull got to eat what seagulls are supposed to eat instead of the literal garbage that city birds so often dine on.  And then a cormorant caught another fish - slender and long, and gulped it in one bite, but I was there just at that moment and saw the whole thing, the fish flipped into the air for just a moment before going down the throat.  And then - the best part - through my headphones I heard something different over the music, so I took the earpieces out, and lo and behold there were several sea lions barking at me from the bay, singing to me to "go, go, go!"  I love running with sea lions.

Little magic moments that grounded me again, made me catch my breath even as the running made me lose it.  Magic moments that I wouldn't have had if I'd turned around early.

We don't push through because it's hard, because it's cold out, because we don't think we can actually do it, because it's raining, because we feel old and uninspired and achy.  We give up because the world is full of people doing good enough work and we're not that special so why should we be any different?  We don't push through because it might be impossibly painful, because we might put it all on the line and then still fail.  We might slip and fall.  We might look foolish (hello, 44 year old woman in spandex running tights and VERY bright neon shoes, yes, that's me).

There are millions of reasons why it makes sense to stop after a short distance.  Running is really hard, and for the 24 hours after my long runs I've learned that the steps I take down to my basement (and I'm usually holding a laundry basket on those stairs) number about 1000, and I have to take a deep breath before the first one because my knees ache and creak like I'm 100 when I go down them.  I couldn't feel my fingers for the first three miles of my run.  The sun was NOT sparkling on the water, calling to me: instead, the damp got inside my bones and gave me a chill.

But then I'd miss all the magic, of knowing that I can still do it, that I can run ten miles on a Saturday morning "just because" and that my "easy" pace is getting faster even when I don't try it.  I'd miss the satisfaction of seeing all those miles pile up in MapMyRun.  I wouldn't be able to zip my size four jeans.  I wouldn't feel so powerful.  I wouldn't be closer to my marathon goal.

And none of this is about running.  This is my life, that I am so desperate to love, to live, to experience.

I have been asked back for fourth interviews - this time with the executive director and the regional director - for a job that might be perfect for me.  Better than any job I've looked at so far.  Well within my ability to be successful, but also with a ton of room for me to grow professionally.  They have my salary requirements and they are in line with the position.  I met the team and I loved them.  I saw the office, and I loved it.

Still plugging away, and sometimes I feel like my third mile goes on forever - that the magic will never happen, and I will be stuck in my slowest mode, frozen hands and damp feet and just not loving any of it, feeling every ache and pain and wondering why anyone would keep this up.  I've made it to the final interviews before and been turned down - ever so gently, with so many compliments - but a "no" is still a "good luck paying your mortgage next month!" even if it's gentle.

But I will not give up, and I'm so proud of that.  I am convinced that magic lies around the corner if I just refuse to quit.  Right now I see a hint of the magic again - maybe I really will get this job! - but here is what I know: if I do not get this job, I will keep going.  I have other irons in the fire.  I will take rejection again, and again, and again, if that is what it takes, but I will not stop. 

I have to believe that if I keep at it, I can do it.  I'm healthy and strong, and I can run ten or more miles.  I'm smart, educated, and experienced, so I can get a job....the right job.

And another thing...

Sometimes I procrastinate.  I put things off even though I know I shouldn't.  I struggle to do the right thing, and the voice inside my head says "what are you doing? you lazy, stupid girl!" as I struggle.  In October, I felt so stuck that I procrastinated looking for work.  I see clearly now that I procrastinated because I was terrified, very uncertain of myself, and very confused, and it took a while to shake that off and get moving.  I am not going to beat myself up for that (even if I do wonder "but maybe I'd be employed now if I'd done a better job in October!"), because maybe I did the best I could with what I had, and I really was freaked out.

Next to my desk, I have the quote "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" by Anais Nin. 

The third mile is when the transformation begins, from tight bud to blossom.  I was so scared that I would fail that I couldn't even try, preferring to remain in the fetal position, curled tight into a bud.

Well, I'm running now.  I do feel stuck in the third mile, and I don't know when the little voice in my headphones will tell me, "Distance, three miles.  Time..." and right now it seems like my time might be "One million minutes" because time is passing really slowly as I slog through the pavement.  I'm not procrastinating.  I'm facing what must be faced, I'm putting myself out there and facing rejection.  I am doing all I can.

And you know what?  That feels pretty good, because I'm proud of myself for the work I'm doing to make my life.  Even when it hurts.  Even before the magic happens.

1 comment:

  1. I remember once running at the park where rabbits play frequently near the bushes and dive back into their warrens when they hear the huffing and puffing of me going past; one rabbit seemed particularly brave that afternoon and didn't hide in his hole. He looked at me curiously, distracted from his normal nervously anxious demeanour. I ran past with a passing thought of it being vaguely strange. A loud high pitched shriek made me look back worriedly. I saw the struggling rabbit in the jaws of a fox, standing with swaggering pride at his accomplishment. He seemed to sense the part I had played in his predatory victory and gave a little nod to me before disappearing amongst the bushes.
    Every time I tell the story I seem to embellish a little, the fox smiled at me or gave a yelp of thanks. In a version I tell far off in the future I may even say he gave me a thumbs up.
    But what will always remain constant is the thought that 'this is the most awesome thing I have ever seen!!'.