Running as a Metaphor for Writing


I used to be a runner. Cross-country. Track. I even ran two marathons. I dreamed of being a world-class marathoner. Hey, you dream big when you don’t know better.

And sometimes, even when you do. I still dream of being on Oprah showcasing my book, even though the Oprah show is now her OWN program. Even though the odds are a gazillion to one, let alone an unknown writer like me to get branded brilliant by the woman who raised reading to a place of esteem in the mainstream.

So, maybe me walking onto Oprah’s stage, sitting in the yellow chair to her right and conversing about my book stands along the lines of a “world-class” dream.

Still, I did run a marathon. Two, in fact. Those seemed as unsurmountable as writing my memoir did when I started. Some challenges seduce me.

These days, I no longer feel called to run much. Sporadically. Not far. Pain in my knees, not fun. So, I take walks. Often.

Today I ran. Well, jogged, but let’s not quivle. I was moving, listening to music, feeling the wind in my long, loose hair, and shouting affirmations into the blue sky. I ran on a country road out by my boyfriend’s house. I took a right to “Hamburger Hill.”

I’ve walked to the top of the long, steep, blacktop numerous times. Often, I jogged just so far and turned around, telling myself it didn’t matter. Nobody’s watching. I don’t have anything to prove.

But, that telephone pole that stood as my marker of the top seemed to always say, “Ok, hon, next time.”

Today, my earbuds were in. The pounding of the music kept time with my feet on the pavement. I didn’t determine I’m getting up there today! like my past tendency of wanting to power the world by my will. Like the way I determined to land an agent, but I haven’t. Or get published in The Huffington Post. Not yet.

There’s a difference between motivation and inspiration. I lived highly motivated in my 20s and 30s. Now, in my 50s, I try to live more in line with my internal intuitions and nudges.

What? Did I fail to mention how I felt in my 40s? Fucked. Thus, the wake up and change up.

Today, I wasn’t motivated to dominate that hill. I was reminded of all the hills I ran in high school. My coach used to say, “Imagine there’s two hands on your butt pushing you up the hill.”

I felt those hands today as I glanced up at the telephone pole finish line. I didn’t speed up. I didn’t slow down. I just put one foot in front of the other because it felt good to pick them up and roll into the next stride. My mind flowed free like the leaves in the wind.

I tugged my black lab Phoenix each time a smell captured her. “Leave it!” I commanded. She doesn’t think of me as a leader, more like a suggester. So, I yanked hard on my 85-pound sweetheart. Why? Any other day, I’d let her distraction become mine.

Today called me to the top—even after all the days I turned around. It was an unexpected day for an irrelevant triumph.

No one greeted me at the top. I didn’t even stop there. I went on to the next telephone pole. Because I was high on accomplishment.

A little, meaningless milestone. Not a marathon. Far from world-class anything. It didn’t matter. The moment belonged to me, the runner in me and the writer, too.

I skipped down the hill, ready again. Ready to submit to magazines. Ready to revise. Ready to risk—ah, for the sweet taste of victory.


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