Often times sitting down to write is the same feeling as stepping up to a start line. I've trained; I have a goal. I get all my gear ready the night before. Before I write, sometimes I do a quick clean, I've done my workout and I've eaten, and I have tea or coffee by my side. I know, generally, what the topic is, and usually the title will float in, which is like heading in to the race corral, meaning it has a pretty specific direction. So, those things to me feel similar, parallel. But what is undeniably the same is the race gut, the anticipation, the feeling of jumping out of my skin. The desire is so strong to turn around and charge the other way, or deep clean the stove, that I almost don't know how to harness it and start. Both places launch the loud voice in my head, the voice of comfort and safety, saying "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???!!! AND WHY???!!! WHY DID YOU SIGN UP FOR THIS???" And that's how, ironically, I know I'm in exactly the right place doing exactly what I'm suppose to be doing in that moment. Even with all that discomfort (terror?), even if I fall down, I have to Keep the Faith and stand back up.
When I was looking up the quote "Fall down seven times, stand up eight" to make sure I had it right, I came across an article by a woman named Sarah Witmer, and she said this:
"The proverb is “Nana korobi, ya oki” which means “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” It means choosing to never give up hope, and to always strive for more. It means that your focus isn’t on the reality in front of you, but on a greater vision that may not be reality yet."
It means that your focus isn't on the reality in front of you, BUT ON A GREATER VISION THAT MAY NOT BE YOUR REALITY YET. When I walked into the gym four years ago, the reality in front of me was bleak and desperate. The reality in front of me was an experienced, serious trainer, who trains athletes, and who was an elite athlete himself. The reality in front of me was a gym, with vocabulary I didn't understand and weights and machines I didn't know how to use. The reality in front of me was the past 20 years that I carried in on my body. I did not belong there. But I kept the faith. It was tested beyond measure, and it has to be. That's the process for getting you from Point A to the Greater Vision. It was thrown around, and lifted, and dropped, and carried, and rowed, and run and run and run. It was buoyed by once unthinkable accomplishments, like PR's (Personal Record), and more PR's and push ups on my toes and 4 minute planks. And it was tested by plateaus and negativity and injuries and life outside the gym world. But I kept the faith. And the stronger I got, the more the realities of who I am became clear. That trip from Point A to the Greater Vision is not linear, not in fitness, not in anything, I suspect. And the beauty of it is, when you get there, that Greater Vision is often greater than the greatest Greater Vision you imagined that set you on the journey in the first place.
And now it's 4 years later, and this fitness life, and running, in particular, have caught me up to that Greater Vision that got me through the gym door that first day. This life that was not reality then, is my reality now. And now this reality in front of me, it has a Greater Vision. It includes fitness and running, of course, but what I could never have seen is that it also includes writing; and that running is a necessary factor in the equation for writing. So now when I am tested with the writing, I know what to do--I Keep the Faith. When my pilgrim heritage makes me feel like I'm not doing anything because the work isn't back breaking, I Keep the Faith. When I think about my age and launching myself into the unknown, I Keep the Faith. When the reality sets in that there is no blue print to follow, I Keep the Faith. And when I run and I push and I challenge myself physically and the writing gates open, I get a deposit in the Faith Fund. It's a little, mighty formula, and I've cracked the code. Run. Write. Stay faithful to yourself.
The whole point, I think, with Keeping the Faith, and trusting in the Greater Vision that may not be reality yet, is that you don't know the outcome. I don't know if I can ever stand on an age group podium, but there is a possibility, so I work with the reality in front of me with my eye on the Greater Vision. I don't know if I'm going to be a writer who makes a living writing, but I work with the reality in front of me while I envision the possibility. Keeping the Faith is not about certainty of an outcome. Keeping the Faith is simply about doing what you know you're supposed to be doing right now, while keeping an eye to the Greater Vision. Keeping the Faith is falling down seven times, and standing up eight.