May 22, 2011

I could do better.

I haven't blogged much recently. I can blame the demands of working, caring for two kids, trying to get into shape, playing Facebook games, and whatever other endeavors swallow my time and attention - but the truth is, there's something else, too. Ideas pop into my mind, sentences form, and then I second-guess myself. I worry that my words, once typed, won't sound right. I worry that the ideas I found compelling in my mind won't be interesting to anyone else. I worry that someone, perhaps myself, will read my blog and think "Meh, I could do better."

Today, I completed a 5k walk, perhaps the first official, organized athletic event in which I have voluntarily participated since my brief stint as a benchwarmer in a grade school soccer league. I signed up a few weeks ago at Weight Watchers, eagerly taking the packet and week-by-week training guide. I imagined myself following the detailed schedule, marching through my neighborhood with a pedometer and a plan.

My actual training regimen consisted of a few random strolls with the kids, stopping to catalog every flower, worm, and pretty rock along the way. There were a couple of serious walks, but many more nights of "Hey, I have that 5k in __ days and I really should go for a walk to prepare for that. Too bad it's raining/it's dark/I'm tired/Survivor's on."

I briefly considering skipping the whole thing, since I knew I wasn't going to do my best. I finally left it up to the weather, to those cosmic forces whose logic I can't dispute, but who likely have better things to worry about than how I spend my Sunday morning.

Under a clear and cool blue sky, I arrived at the park this morning, pinned a number to my shirt. About 10 minutes before the race started, clouds swept in and it began to rain. First a little drizzle, then more. By the starting signal, it was pouring. It was cold. The more savvy participants pulled out umbrellas and rain ponchos. I figured that the faster I moved, the sooner it would be over, and then I could dry off.

As I walked, I came to understand the purpose of these organized events. I was swept up in the collective enthusiasm of the crowd and the shared and individual pride in our own weight loss and fitness achievements. I saw people much older and much heavier than me walking with confidence and speed. I noticed the signs on shirts: "Zumba granny," "I lost 108 pounds," "Never give up."

Sometime during the second mile, the sun came out. It warmed my face and began to dry out my clothes. I kept pushing myself to walk faster, but this time it was because I felt alive and invigorated.

The phrase that kept bouncing through my head as I walked was: "I can do better." In my internal monologue, I often use that phrase as a put-down to myself. I compare myself to an abstract standard, some impossibly perfect yardstick version of me, and my real accomplishments fall short.

But "I can do better" can be hopeful and affirming. I am growing. I am not done. Today might be my last day on this earth, but it probably isn't. Knowing that I can do better means that whatever I accomplish today doesn't need to be perfect. If it's something, then it's something that I can build on, and that means I am still alive and relevant.

I finished the race in 52 minutes, then spent the rest of the day on a carb-seeking mission. Then I wrote a blog which might not make any sense.

Of course, I can do better. That's not a problem. It's the whole point.


Hebe Shipp said...

"Alive and relevant." Love it.

Steph said...

I have been mulling about why I don't blog that much, and realized that it's because I don't have confidence in myself. I like to tell myself that it's because I'm busy, or that if only I could write the entry as soon as the ideas come to, I would blog regularly. But really, if I were able to write about my thoughts immediately, I know I still wouldn't publish them in my blog because I still wouldn't be happy with it. I would think it's not brilliant, and so what would be the point?

I've decided that I don't want to think like that anymore. I've resolved to blog more often, and to try and not be so critical of myself. After all, the blog is supposed to be a collection of my thoughts, a record of my growth, and so I just need to stop criticizing and just write what comes to me.

Great post Monica :-)