Friday, June 10, 2016

On Going the Distance

Over the weekend my mom and I ran a marathon. For four hours we ran and ran and ran and covered an entire 26.2 miles all over the city of San Diego. If a marathon is only one thing more than a race that transcends thousands of years, it is the Queen Diva of Metaphors. Three of the four hours I spent thinking of the way all this work, the research and miles ran, the new running visors and well-worn running shoes, was here and now. I thought of the pieces that are brought together for a grand showing.

Take away the Nike shoes and we're talking about creativity.

Making, like a marathon, feels so daunting at the beginning. You're all there in the corrals together, awaiting the start, when you realize others have more gear, stronger bodies, better clothes. But there's the others, who have on cotton shirts, no race fuel, old shoes. And there you are, a small person in the midst of a large, rambunctious crowd. This is where doubt creeps in.

You need to start moving. Move in any direction for your creative self's sake.

The first half of the race is fun, easy enough, until the shorter distance runners turn away. Now you have more room to enjoy as the course bobs and weaves, but you're going twice their distance which feels insane. It's crazy, my friend, pure crazy. But, you can do it. You can do it because we're not all headed the same direction for the same distance.

Don't let another person's goals bring you to abandon your own.

At mile fifteen, we learned that some of us are stronger than others and those who become weak need aid. A woman collapsed next to my mom and I (and, blessedly, an off-duty firefighter). We stopped running, they rendered aid, I ran (an extra mile) to get help from a police officer. Ten minutes of time -a mile plus some- gone from our race time. But that woman needed help and so will others along your creative course. Stop, render aid.

You are capable, kind, and necessary to your fellow racers. Just as they are to you.

Sometimes the best way to race onward is to stop. Stop for refreshment, for refueling, for encouragement from fans. Stop and embrace the fans you know (like the barista from your local Starbucks who is cheering on her son AND you or the aunt and uncle who make time to be there at mile 20). Stop, catch your breath, reassess, and then go.

Stop so that you can continue to go.

It is mile 22 to 24 that feel like the forever kind of long. Your muscles are tired, starting to ache, and now there's a hill to run. But, friend, you're spirit is strong, bold and brave; it's far bigger than any hill circumstance can throw your way. There are easy miles and there are hard ones. They're the same length, even though they feel so hellishly long. So, head down, focus up, determination all over the place.

The finish line will look so very sweet.

So work. Work friend.
Work with color and shape and composition.
Work with determination and bravery and kindness.
Work with the hard times and the sweet encouragements.
Work with a care for your craft and your people.
Work until the task is done.

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