On Being Sidelined
About a month ago, I developed a mysterious foot injury. I went for a 5 mile run, and was feeling good. But that evening, the outside bottom of my foot near the heel was aching. I had no idea what had happened, but it hurt. I gave it a little over a week, and tried to run again. No dice. So I decided to stay off it for longer. I didn’t think it would bug me…after all, I had spent the first 30 plus years of my life NOT running. I had no idea it was going to be so hard.
The exhilaration, the feeling of accomplishment, that good tired in your muscles that tells you you gave everything today…I missed it all. And as a result, I came to the most shocking realization….
I like to run.
Whoah. Being sidelined wasn’t a total loss, because I realized something important. And in contemplating that, I also realized that being on the sideline has felt like a bit of a theme for me right now.
In my writing life, I have found myself lacking creative oomph. I can devise marketing plans, make lists of industry blogs to read, or answer interview questions, but I am struggling to actually create. I am quite certain that there is something for me to learn here as well, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not itching to get back into the game.
So how do we get off the DL? With running, when my foot stopped hurting, I thought I could pick up where I had left off. Not so. The problem now is mental. I have become tenative. I can’t run without wondering what every tiny pang or twinge might mean. I have to battle the thought, “What if I can’t ever run like I did before?”
In writing, there are similar challenges. When I sit down to write, I have to fight through the “injury.” I wonder, when I struggle to put my ideas on paper, what that means. I have to battle the question, “What if I never have another creative thought…ever?”
I guess this is where I thank Nike, because the conclusion I have come to is that I have to just get out there and do it.
Run, even if it’s slow and ugly.
Write, even if it’s slow and ugly.
Turn off that internal voice that throws all kinds of ridiculous scenarios at us, each amounting to, “you can’t do it!”
In our house, we call that internal voice, “Fred.” We named him one day when our daughter, Lucy, was in tears during her guitar practice. Phrases like, “I’ll never learn it!” and “I’m terrible at this!” were flowing. And my husband, in a moment of genius, named that negative voice and called him out. Now, when Fred is around, we talk back to him. We tell him to go away. We let him know that we don’t believe him. We send him on vacation to Australia or Michigan, or wherever my silly kids happen to think of that night. We laugh as we banish him to the ends of the earth, but it helps our kids recognize an extremely important thing. Fred is NOT in charge. He is NOT the boss of you. He does NOT get a vote.
So listen up, Freddie.
Here’s the thing.
I’m tired of being on the sidelines. So I’m going to write. And I’m going to run. Because I LIKE IT, and now that I know that I LIKE IT, there’s no stopping me.
As for you, I hear South America is nice this time of year…