The Road from Hating to Co-existing

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

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I used to hate running. I found it boring. I couldn’t go on for more than 40 minutes. I badly needed music to make it a little bit bearable. Sure, I went on runs on and off for the past four years, but only because I wanted to lose weight. I wasn’t obese, mind you. I wasn’t even what some people would call “chubby.” Most of my friends considered me thin. But when you’re young and watch too much America’s Next Top Model, your view of yourself becomes a little distorted.

For the past two years, slowly but surely, I let go of my anorexic tendencies and just focused on being healthy. Trying to eat the right food and be physically active so I can live longer. Recently, my attitude towards running has been changing. Last month, I downloaded the Nike training app and started the half-marathon training. Not so I could join a 21k event, but so I could train for an upcoming difficult hike. Before that, the longest I was able to run was 5km…then came 8km…and then 10km. When my brother (who was a triathlete) sent me the link to a 20-miler run event, I thought what the hell, why not? I joined the 10-miler (16km) category.

During the last 4km of the race, I felt symptoms of ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome). According to my brother, it’s when a thick band of tissue fibers have friction with the side of the knee….or something like that. All I knew was that it was excruciating when I had it during a hike months ago. I thought I was going to have to walk or limp to the finish line.

But good thing I did not. Upon crossing the finish line, I felt myself choking from emotions. I felt like I wanted to cry. I didn’t, though. I was too embarrassed because after all, 16km was too short a distance for someone to get emotional. But it was the most difficult thing I have ever done, running-wise. And for me, that alone was a personal achievement to remember.

I’m not saying I now love running. I can’t even say I enjoy doing it. But I now have great respect for it and for the people who do it. It takes a whole level of discipline, will, and fighting spirit. Fighting a battle against yourself whenever you feel like giving up.

No, I don’t love running yet. But I can now do it without complaining to myself the whole time. I can now do it even without music. I can now live with it. That’s a step.

2015: Try again

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For the past eight years, I’ve been telling myself (and anyone who would listen) that I want to become a writer. Eight years have gone by with me not having written anything substantial. Sure, I co-wrote an article that was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Though I put a lot of effort on that, that wasn’t really the kind of writing I have imagined myself doing.

I’ve always wanted to write fiction — novels and screenplays. I have written concepts and rough outlines of a number of stories, all inside a folder in my laptop entitled PROCRASTINATION. Yes, I am quite upfront about my weaknesses 🙂 When I was in grade school and high school, I used to write scripts for my imaginary TV shows. I used to share those with friends who also wrote stories of their own. We had a little unofficial club where we exchanged notebooks of our writings and gave feedback to each other. When I stepped into college life, eight years ago, I suddenly did not have time to write anymore and just resorted to telling myself that I wanted to become a writer…instead of actually writing anything.

After years of denial and self-assessment, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a “lack of time” that’s keeping me from writing. It’s a lack of courage and discipline. I realized that I had romanticized the idea of writing as an activity that’s 100% based on inspiration. Though inspiration is indeed important, there are two other more important factors (at least, that’s relevant to my experience):

  • Courage: to make mistakes, to have your work reviewed (and not be appreciated) by other people
  • Discipline: to strictly follow a routine, a schedule and timeline much like any other profession in the world

That’s right. I’ve been masking my lack of courage and discipline behind the classic “lack of time” excuse for so many years. But this year is quite different. 2015 for me is the year of trying things I’ve always wanted to try but never actually tried. The main ingredient of this recipe of “trying things” is building this blog. I don’t expect myself to write a novel or screenplay this year, but I do want to cultivate a space where I can write my thoughts about anything that interests me–could be writing about my travels, sharing my photography, writing short stories, or maybe publishing some excerpts from my evolving screenplays.

Yes, it’s still messy. I don’t have everything figured out yet. But that’s what this blog is for. For me to try and try again. That’s what my 2-year old nephew does. Every time he misses shooting the ball into the basket, he enthusiastically picks up the ball again and says “Try again.” If a 2-year old can have that mindset, maybe so can I.