It is a race
With no one else
I hate my pace
I’m too slow
I must go
I push, my mind
I can’t be kind
There is the line
I see my goal
I’m almost there
Can’t quit now
In high school, I joined the Track and Field team for two big reasons:
- Someone taped a recruitment flyer to my locker, and the thought that someone wanted me–specifically me–as a part of their team delighted me. Maybe I could make friends?
- In my dreams, I ran from monsters; I wanted to know if I could run from monsters in real life.
Hope and fear. Both are powerful motivators.
I didn’t entirely enjoy the four seasons of running, high-jumping, and occasional throwing. During those years, I struggled with poor food choices, too little sleep, underdeveloped social skills, and emotional issues that stemmed from more than the ritual assault of adolescent hormones.
Every day contributed to a lesson, though.
Yes, I was part of a team. The points I earned in competition helped everyone. The effort I put into practices add to the communal enthusiasm. However, I quickly realized that most of Track and Field is competition against the self.
With the exception of the relay race, no one can pick up the slack for you if you’re too slow. No one else can tweak your muscles in the midst of a jump. There are days when no one will train beside you, and if you prefer field activities, none of your teammates will be at your side when you need a word of support or even a physical shoulder to lean on.
In a way, though, that’s the best part of Track and Field. You have to carry your own weight or else give up the sport.
You have to push to find your limits then somehow push past them.
That’s also the best part of writing.
Writing is often lonely and sometimes painful. When exhaustion sets in, goals seem like tools of self-torture.
An editing project requires too many steps. Stop early! the voice in your head screams. Just find somewhere else to be! The daily word count is a bar that will fall with your sore body. It just gets in the way! Find something else to do!
But then, you write double your daily goal. You finish editing and feel glorious satisfaction at the ground you’d covered.
The monster of self-doubt, though still chasing, is far in the distance.