There is something irresistible about a monthlong challenge. It's enlivening to set a concrete goal and strive towards it. At least, at the end it is, I think. I've never actually done one of these successfully. Something always derails it. Usually weariness and fear. In the beginning, proclaiming "I will do this FOR A WHOLE MONTH!" is hopeful. In the middle, it's an overwhelming struggle. In the end, it isn't so much that I did it, but more about the stamina acquired from practicing the continuous push that results in a journey full of meaning and satisfaction.
Meaning and satisfaction, that's the intention.
In a few minutes, I'm going to show up predawn at an outdoor track and run laps. Showing up to run laps isn't something I looked forward to at first. I couldn't completely run one lap. But over time, with a friend, I got stronger and faster, my form improved, and all the tedious grinding of around and around and around became less about counting the laps and more about the discipline and practice.
Simon Sinek says, "I didn't show up at the gym, run for 6 hours straight and was suddenly declared in shape. That's not how growth works."
I showed up for 18 months at the track or treadmill and pounded out what I had for that day, day after day, pushing my limits a little at a time, with a friend.
The meaning and satisfaction came from seeing the sunrise, watching the light change on the horizon, listening to the early morning birdsong, the life-giving conversations I had with my friend(now that we can talk and run), the emotional high afterwards, the pleasure and satisfaction of knowing that I did something good for myself, I took care. When I finish one race and I almost immediately sign up for another one. The anticipation, pressing ever onward.
Meaning and satisfaction. I want to live a life full of it.
This intention isn't acquired through a relationship with stuff, through consumption, it's acquired through tedious, painstaking, time-consuming work that's slow. It's creation. To gain meaning and satisfaction demands discipline and humility to attain. Like building and maintaining relationship, setting up and embodying a company culture or a household culture, planting and maintaining a garden, discerning the next best step and following through.
It's all about the follow through.
I have another intention I'm working on--doing a yoga head stand. I've never been great at flipping myself around through space, head over heels. I've always been a feet-on-the-ground sort of girl. Every night, I get into the ridiculous position of clasping my arms behind my head, bracing my shoulders and kicking my feet up until I inevitably smack the wall behind me. This, I am assured, is how you begin, by falling over for days upon weeks upon months.
Caleb's my coach, of course, he can do a headstand without practice because he's Caleb and he's got coordination and confidence down.
He sits there and watches me at night, since we've given up TV during week nights, I'm his new favorite show. He offers helpful feedback: back away from the door, you're hitting it too soon, brace your arms more, there you go. Breathe, girl. BREATHE.
I exhale dramatically because I didn't realize I was holding my breath.
I'm getting better, slowly, one tumble at a time. I am satisfied that I am gaining. The meaning is in achieving my goal, being humble enough to fall down and accept that this is how we grow: through failure, not just one failure, often repeated failures.
So excelsior, a word I shout with my kids now, whenever we are off on a new subject, road trip, or adventure to the grocery store. We got it from a PBS kids show, Ready Jet Go, it's latin for: onward & upwards.
See you tomorrow.