Monday, October 03, 2011

Grimsby Ontario feels anything but grim.

I made it I made it I made it I made it. On screen anyway.

I've "arrived" in Canada and am now near a town called Grimsby, Ontario. As of September 30, I'm in pretty good shape to complete my virtual run from Pennsylvania to Canada, which may put me significantly ahead of my goal of running 450 miles this year. If I keep up my pace, I'll complete about 500 miles for the year. In fact, September was my best month ever. I ran about fifty miles, and on several days ran longer distances than I had run previously.

For those who need the numbers (AKA Capricorns):
375 down
75 more to go
3 months to do it...
which means...
25 miles a month
or about 6.25 miles a week
or about 1.5 miles / run, 4 times a week

Since my monthly goal at the outset was 37.5 miles, you can see where I may, in fact, overshoot Toronto.

No, I have no explanation for that.

No, I would have never anticipated that come the beginning of October, I would still find myself on track to reach my goal. The fact is I can’t quite believe I’ve been running every week for about a year and half now.

As I think about this, it occurs to me that I can’t remember the last long term commitment I made to anything. That’s kind of troubling. I’ve made plenty of false starts and plenty of resolutions about doing something differently, trying something new, or even believing in something more fervently than I ever had before. All resolutions that meant something to me and flickered brightly for a short time and then burned out.

So what's that about? When I find myself in this kind of mood I think about the speech Andy Millman (the character Ricky Gervais brilliantly embodied in his show, Extras) gave when he described his lack of initiative or dedication on camera: “I would have loved to have been a doctor. Too hard. Didn’t want to put the work in. I’d have loved to have been a war hero. I’m too scared. So I go [referring to his career as an entertainer]: ‘Oh, it’s what I do.’ ”

I’m not saying I wanted a medical or military career and that I am sorely disappointed in myself. It’s more about the frustration I often feel about trying to be ...hmmmm...more than I really am? Or maybe a better version of myself? In my head, I’m always open to new ideas and new experiences; open to the ways I can explore what's possible and where that might take me. But in reality: not so much.

I'm going to stick with my "professional" life for now and list a couple of the plans I make in my head regularly to give you a sense of my immobility.

Today is always the day I’m going to register that amazing domain name for the website I thought about starting something like nine years ago. Which means that by now it should probably be an app, not a website. Which would mean so much more to me if I ever used any apps.

It’s the day I’m going to begin writing the business plan for the Shoe-of-the-Month Club (and idea I had circa 1995) that it's now too late to do: Kim or Khloe or some other Kardashian attached her name to the idea already and it's up and running.

It’s the week I’m going to start submitting weekly columns to the websites who have published my work. (Immediately following this resolution, while staring at a blank screen, I begin to wonder how in the world I wrote and submitted weekly newspaper columns for something like eight or nine years.)

It’s the week I’m going to find a new agent and figure out how to refresh the well-received but unpublished book that sits on top of the trunk in my bedroom. (Summary of every rejection letter my now retired agent shared with me: "Love this!! Love the writing, love the voice. Who is she?? Does she have a show on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, a national column, a reality show appearance or a syndicated deal??") Note to self: find a place for that manuscript and put it away.

Oh wait, no, it’s the day I’m going to figure out that “i-universe” thing and self-publish the book.

And one more, semi-professionally related:
It’s the day I’m absolutely going to call my old therapist and beg him to see me. (Luckily, this would be an easy appointment for him. As you’ve already no doubt concluded, not much has changed since the last time we spoke.)

I’m ignoring the list of the day-to-day projects large and small I seem to think I’ll begin any minute now, but don’t. In reality, describing myself as someone who is ‘risk averse’ is like calling Tiger Woods someone who flirts a lot. The positive spin is to imagine that I’m basically “content.” Another word that springs to mind: lazy. And yet another: fearful. God knows.

I envy – okay, I admit it – I envy the energy and activity I see so many people exhibiting in so many parts of their lives. Friends who are discovering their Act 2, or even Act 3 in some cases; trying something kind of scary but rewarding. They believe in something I would quietly see as “impossible” and then they make it possible, and positive.

How does everyone else do this? How do you ignore the small but relentless voice inside that says with enormous conviction, "You can't do this," without succumbing to the b-s voice that cheers and screams, "You're awesome! You can do anything you want!!!" Is there a middle ground, where realism meets creativity?

Maybe all of this reinvention and resolve to drive ourselves to the next level of success is a technology-driven phenomenon. As I've said before, we're way beyond Thoreau at this point: we're living lives of strident desperation. We seem to want to be seen, heard, and adored by everyone. Our parents seemed to live satisfying lives. They were mostly content to be the co-stars of their own stories; to be part of an ensemble cast in the local theater company. These days, many of us want to be the star on a worldwide tour.

As Andy Millman put it, "The Victorian freak show never went away. But now it's called Big Brother or American Idol...." This may be one of those "careful what you wish for" moments.

All this to say, my partial paralysis in so many parts of my life is probably the only reason I’ve refused to give up on my annual resolution. I've stated my intentions and am determined to see it through. Given my history, it’s a minor miracle that I actually started the run and it's even more astounding that I’m still on it. I’m proud of my tenacity. I’m almost to the point where even I believe I’m going to make it and feel proud of taking on the challenge and meeting it.

Now I just need to figure out how to translate that into the rest of my life, without entering the freak show.


Anonymous said...

Ahh, my dear Renee, I too once suffered from the Guilt of Not...of not finishing the half dozen Best Selling Novels I started...of not getting around to actually explaining how to morph from Realist to Idealist in one easy lesson...of not explaining how it all works...of not...well of not a whole lot of things that I will never get a round to anymore. But...I have found salvation! And you put your finger right on it...the middle ground. I found it in Dudeism...a somewhat bastardized form of Taoism that has sprang from the The Big Lebowski movie and taken on a life of it's own. Our Mantra...Just take it easy dude. Life goes on...can't worry about that shit. But mostly Dudeism is about Abiding and taking the middle path to happiness. Too slow and you get stuck in the mud...too fast and you crash on the rocks.
Renee, my dear, you need to get a little Dudeism in your life and learn to just take it easy dude.
Go to and get yourself ordained as a minister in the church of the latter day Dude then sit back and relax with a Oat Soda or White Russian...put The Big Lebowski in the DVD and just take it easy can join us on the forum if you wish, but above all...Abide dude...Abide.

renee said...

Well, c.c., this made me smile. And I'll take that any day.

As for the aptly named "Guilt of Not," as you call it, this will not stand, man!!!

: )

Thanks for your visit and your kind words of comfort and encouragement.