Saturday, July 30, 2016
Run Your Own Race
Today was as humid as a greenhouse here in the Mid Atlantic, even in the morning when I decided to go for a run. Understand, I am not a long distance runner or rabid devotee--I just want to get fit. Towards the end of the session I was pleased to hear by Runkeeper tell me I ran much longer and farther than before, but before I could bask in the glow of my own accomplishments, a sinewy woman who probably weighed all of 95 pounds after a heavy meal, blew past me and motored up the steep hill ahead. I watched, aghast, as she tackled the climb as if she were riding an escalator. Meanwhile, I was chugging like a steam engine pulling twenty cars loaded with coal. I had to break to a walk. So, of course, I immediately got to comparing myself with her. Why can't I do that? I resented her and wanted to be her at the same time. And that's what's wrong with me and a whole lot of other people. We look around, compare, find ourself lacking, and launch into any number of negative responses: quitting, tearing others down, making excuses, criticizing oneself. While all that is going on, what we really need to do is center ourselves and run our own race. That woman on the hill may have been running all her life, whereas I just started. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, because I was there to do what I needed to do and accomplish the times and distances I had set out for myself. And then I needed to celebrate those accomplishments. That last step is important, too.
The same thing happens in writing. How many of you out there have seen other writers zoom past you on the road to publishing, snagging an agent or signing a 3-book contract while you feel as if you're languishing on the by-roads. Have you felt jealousy, envy, resentment or even surprise to learn that another author is now wildly successful and his marketing campaign is raking in new readers by the thousands while your Amazon sales statistics are flatlined? Yeah, it's hard not to compare. That's what human beings do, but do it at your peril writer friends. We are all running our own, unique race and no two journeys are alike. So when you feel the breeze from that author running past you up the hill, do not despair. You don't know his journey, what he's done to get there, or how long he's been at it. Run your own race. Be the best runner, writer, rider--whatever-- you know how to be.