Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Running and Writing

I like to run. And I like to write.

I'm not a writer, not any more so than anyone who's literate. So unless you started your lifelong career as a human cannonball at the age of 4, you probably know how to write. Heck, even that guy probably learned to write from a withered old clown, albeit whimsically.

Everyone also knows how to run. Even folks these days missing limbs run around on fancy prosthetics and robo-legs. And yet not everyone runs. They don't run for the same reason many folks don't write.

Writing is hard.

If you're lazy.

I'm lazy. And both running and writing require me to not be lazy. You can see the conundrum this puts me in. How do I reconcile doing stuff with my thick coating of sloth?!

I also work. And feed my cat every day. So clearly I'm able to drag my bloated husk out of bed for some things. But why?!

Because I have to.

I don't get to decide whether I should go to work or stay at home and rewatch all of Matlock in a single sitting. They'd stop paying me and I would die. If I don't feed my cat, it will die too. I mean, neither of us would actually die, but neither my cat nor I want to subsist on bark and snails.

I mean, maybe the fleshy part is ok...

Running and writing are things I have to do. If I don't do those things, I will die. Shhhh, don't correct me. Let me believe my craziness. It's how I motivate myself. If I don't run everyday, my body will collapse into a pile of crumbled bone and bubbling fat. If I don't write every day, I will start gibbering at birds and giggling at furniture.

That's how critical I make those things in my mind. Anything less and I won't do them, plain and simple. My life is a boot camp. A boot camp where a vindictive drill sergeant who's been repeatedly passed up for promotion due to his drinking problem holds a bayonet to my throat and screams, "Run you fat asshole! Now write about it! Now feed your cat you useless piece of shit!"

People often decide to do things for vague reasons.

"I should learn to play guitar so that I can meet that one girl who digs lousy Oasis covers."

"That's it, I'm going to lose some weight. I'm tired of these doors being so narrow!"

"I'm going to write a book! J.K. Rowling has nothing on me! Wizards? Bah. They're nothing compared to my vampire wizards who are also ninja detectives."

Vampire wizard who is also a ninja detective

Don't try googling the above image to find the genius artist. I just created that on my lunch break. POW. If I don't draw, I die.

Writing and running are both great catharsis. They let you blast out whatever angry shit is inside of you. Running smashes that rage into the ground. Writing bathes your unsuspecting readers in it. But either way it's no longer inside of you. And you can now fill that empty space with ice cream!

Everyone is overflowing with knowledge, opinions, and edifying life experiences. There's no special qualification to become a writer. No courses titled, "Writing 101: Immortalizing your Bullshit." No test you have to pass on how to spell "finesse". You don't even need pen and paper! You just sit at whatever computer is nearest to you and start mashing the keyboard with the meat clubs on the end of your arms.

Of course, you'll suck at it at first. Your treatise on exactly how much force is required for Mario to squash a goomba may be ill-received (although suddenly I want to know). Your jokes may focus on Mario's balls and how sore they must get. Seriously though, every time he jumps, he's practically doing a split in mid air. And he lands like that on monsters. OUCH. Those turtle shells must hurt.

Running is the same way. You'll suck at it at first. You didn't realize how long your block was until you suddenly required your misshapen legs to propel you to the end of it. It takes a while before you can run even a mile without sounding like locomotive with asthma. You're like the little train that couldn't...... without breathing hard.

Maybe that's part of the challenge: Knowing that you'll suck at it. That's the hard part of being human (unless you're The Doctor: If you're reading this I want to travel through time with you!). We humans aren't good at anything. Our thick sloshy masses have to be beaten for a very long time before we become finely refined tools. And that's only at one thing. If you want to run and write, you better find a nice cave to settle into for the next ten years.

That's part of the benefit of doing things because you feel you have to (or you'll die). Even if you're awful at it, you still have to do it. When I started my job, I lied and said I knew what computers were. "Oooh yeah, they're the beeping things I put my card into to get money. Right?!" So I had a bit of a, um, learning curve in the beginning. But I didn't have a choice. I wanted to sleep on something other than pine cones and fleas.

We all fantasize about being amazing at something. An amazing sports-person who get all the hot sex and money. An amazing music-person who gets all the hot sex and drugs. An amazing writing person who gets all the hot sex and.... Pulitzers? But nobody woke up and was amazing at those things. They were insane, like me. They did those things for most of their life, sucked at them for most of that time, and then suddenly they became kind of good.

Honestly, you're not even "kind of good" at writing.
Photo Cr. Pixie
Don't do something just because you want to. Don't do something just because you think it will make you marginally more attractive. Don't do something because your mom says it will make you grow up strong like Popeye. Do something because if you don't, you die.

If you don't do it, you die.

I put that in big letters, because I want you to read it and panic. I start suffering some serious anxiety if I go longer than a couple days without running, or writing, or feeding my cat. It's like sitting on your couch and suddenly realizing that you forgot to go to work for the last three days and you didn't even feed your boss a lame excuse. I've had dreams where that happened, actually. They were unpleasant.

None of us are perfect. We'll never be perfect. What's the point of worrying about it? But I'm going to tell you now, just to really drill in the guilt: if you're not at least trying, then your sense of self-loathing is well-deserved. Because working hard at something that you value - and becoming awesome at it - is probably the best feeling in the universe.

You'll never be as awesome as this though.

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