What Running Taught Me About Chasing My Dreams
(Kim’s note: I’m supposed to be running the Boston Marathon this weekend (I qualified with a 3:36 baby, whoot!) but because we’re saving for our trip I just couldn’t justify the expense of traveling for it. I’m okay with it, our RTW is my ultimate dream after all, but this post is my little ode to all the runners and dream chasers out there).
If you read this blog with any regularity you know by now that this ‘trip’ is so much more than a trip to me. It’s more than a career break, more than a year-long vacation. I still don’t have the right words for it but, simply put, this time off is my chance. It’s my shot at my dream. In case you’ve missed it: writing + traveling (but not necessarily writing about traveling) = my dream.
But I am not going to lie. At least ten times a week I ask myself what the hell are you doing? I think who are you to chase your dream? And, oh god, the worst for a writer: What makes you think your voice is important? Don’t you realize you HAVE! NO! TALENT!?
Let me tell you, believing in your dreams is not easy, though you’d think it would be the most natural thing in the world. The truth is, at least my truth is, that following my dreams has been one of the most humbling and ego-crushing things that I have ever done (which is, of course, why I’ve put it off until now).
People say that life doesn’t come with instructions but I don’t think that’s true. There are instructions in life and we can recite them from an early age. Go to school, raise your hand, do your homework, make good grades, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, work, work, work, have a child, work, work, work, have another child, work some more, retire, die.
What no one really tells you is that you don’t have to follow those instructions. Life is not some Ikea chest of drawers to be assembled step-by-step. And yet, let the good lord help you if you decide to rip up those instructions and create your own rules. We as a society do not look kindly upon those that do not follow the instructions. The rule breakers are looked at as eccentric dreamers at best, selfish assholes at worst (unless they make a lot of money, then we call them geniuses).
Anyway, all of that just goes to show you what any dream-chaser has stacked against them. The pull of “normal” life, the life with instructions, is really strong. To deny it is to live in paradox: to doubt your dreams even while simultaneously chasing them.
Here is something that I have learned about chasing my dreams from running marathons: there will always be a time when I want to quit. Always. It’s just the nature of the beast. No matter how hard I’ve trained and no matter how badly I want to reach whatever goal I’ve set for myself, there inevitably comes a time when I’m not sure that I can go on. And always, in that moment, I’m just so damn tired and uncomfortable that I can’t recall exactly what the point is.
But each time I round the final corner of a marathon and get the first glimpse of the finish line all of the reasons come flooding back to me. I do it to test myself, to push my limits, to accomplish something that seems impossible. I do it for the sense of pride I take in setting a goal and following through. I do it because I’m never quite sure that I can do it, and then I do, and it makes me remember that I should never, ever doubt my ability to make my dreams come true.