During this morning's run, I found two dimes. I often find a penny or two (although since the economic collapse, I'm finding fewer coins on the ground), which is a thrill, but I'm always happy out of proportion when I find nickels, dimes, and quarters. And to find not just one dime, but two!
I was already having a good run. For the first time in weeks, my legs felt like legs with powerful muscles, not stumps of wood with painful nerve endings. I went a mile more than I usually do. And then, just for good measure, the universe rewarded me with two dimes.
If I had decided to be lazy, I wouldn't have found those dimes. I wouldn't have discovered that I've moved through whatever muscle soreness I've been experiencing. I would have remained mired in a murky body loathing that's never far away from me.
I often think of my writing life similarly. I often feel like I'll come up with an interesting image again. I moan, "It's been weeks since I wrote a good poem!" Then my despair will spiral out of control and proportion. I'll say, "No, it's been months since I wrote a good poem. I will never write a good poem again." Mope, mope, moan, moan.
I don't enjoy being in that part of the cycle, but I've been there enough that at least I recognize the scenery now. I tell myself, "This, too, shall pass." I keep showing up to do the work, because I never know when my mood will break and I'll say, "Wow! I wrote a good poem today!"
Often when I go back to read those poems that I wrote, the ones that I declared to be horrible, often I'm amazed at how they're not really that bad. Even the ones that aren't salvageable often have some nugget. I throw nothing away. My inner critic is fierce, and if you give her one discarded poem, she'll demand ten.
As many a book on the writing craft (and other art forms) will tell us, often the most important thing we can do is to show up. We do the best we can with the day that we have been given, and we get up the next day, to begin the work again. In this way, we make progress. In this way, we wake up ten years later, amazed at the writing skills we have developed.
And of course, this metaphor holds true for many areas of our lives. I love the idea that each day brings me a new opportunity to try again to be my best self. I love the idea that if it doesn't work out so well, I have a different chance tomorrow, and the next day, and the next . . .
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