Do you ever set a goal only to find that forces in the universe conspire to thwart your every effort?
The other day, I went to the gym (training for the half marathon in June) and almost hit a car, a biker, and then a cat. Each one whizzed out in front of me at night on a poorly lit road. Thanks to my good eyesight and reflexes, no one was hurt. But seriously? I don’t want to hit cars, bikers, or cats, and it was frustrating to have to deal with such recklessness when all I wanted was a nice relaxing jog on the track.
Then there was that other day when I hurt my knee and wanted to do something easy on the joints, so I planned on aqua zumba (so fun!). I already wasn’t feeling great, but then I show up, and was the only one in the class besides the instructor for the first fifteen minutes (awkward), and I forgot my towel. And it was cold outside. Yeah.
There are days like that with writing too when I plan on having several beautiful, uninterrupted hours only to realize that I forgot about dentist visits, grocery shopping, and volunteering at the school and I get a headache, and suddenly, my time has been chiseled down to an hour and a half, and I struggle to stay awake.
Days like that happen. In fact, I think they are inevitable. There are so many things we can’t control (like cats with death wishes), and sometimes those things are going to stubbornly plant themselves right between us and our goals. I know you have days like that too, and it totally stinks. But you know what? When I was done with my workouts, I felt pretty victorious, and when I managed to write a few beautiful sentences on those busy days anyway, I felt happy with my work.
Something I have been saying to myself lately is “Every step is a victory!” I say this to myself on days when I already had a handful of justifiable reasons to throw in the towel and say “next time,” but I don’t. On those days when I don’t give in to the easier way but go and run anyway or write even when I feel discouraged (like when I get a rejection letter from a publisher), I remind myself that every single step I take, or word I write, is a victory. Each one is a witness that I persevered that day. Even if my running time was slower than elephants running in peanut butter, or my writing feels less than brilliant, I got out there when I was seriously tempted to do nothing. Elephants in peanut butter is better than nothing.
Those elephants are going to finish the race before the elephant that stands still.
Now I want to go to the zoo. And eat something with peanut butter.