Thursday, July 26, 2012

"I've Always Wanted To"

I always wanted to run a marathon.

I always wanted to write a novel.

And then there’s…

I always wanted to be a therapist, or a social worker.

These are things I hear once in a while, and I do love to hear them since they are great lead-ins and conversation starters about what has taken place so far to reach these goals.  I can talk about my kids, my running, and writing all day long to anyone who will listen, so if this is an opportunity to share paths, then I’m all in.  In both running and writing I've cornered as many veterans as I could to ask them questions, and still try to corner veterans of any passions I aspire to and suck whatever I can out of their heads and infuse into my own..   

At other times, however, these statements, I feel, are done to kind of co-opt an achievement that someone hasn’t done much to make happen, and by saying “they always wanted to” it somehow puts them in that group   It can come natural when you hear something someone has done that you respect to say "I've always wanted to do that", but then you have to check yourself and say “Why haven’t I?” Because after you say, “I’ve always wanted to,” afterwards comes the excuse.  And there’s nothing noble about always wanting to do something and not starting.

I guess life is about finding out which of those things on our 'Always Wanted To' list we are willing to work for.
I have my own list of “always wanted to."  I've always wanted to hike a mountain wearing my tent on my back, and camp for days. I've always wanted to go to Alaska, New Zealand, bike hut to hut in the Rocky Mountains. I've always wanted to run an ultra marathon.  Always wanted to sky dive. To get a Tattoo, to heli-ski, to go Vegan for 6 months just to see, to take an astronomy class and buy a telescope.

Always wanted to.

But always wanted to and done nothing to make happen means either I didn’t want to enough, that other things took priority, that I’m being lazy, or, of course, there were very real barriers.

Yes, kids, money, time, the wind, genetics, there’s all sorts of reason.  But when it comes down to it, if I’ve always wanted to, but hadn’t, there’s a possibility I just didn’t want to enough.

Does this sound elitist or cold, or like some kind of Ayn Rand objectivism or  Nietzschean superman tendency? (I’m not sure what that sentence even means, but I do know that I’ve always wanted to write it, so there, cross that off the list.)

I also believe that, for everyone who has said to me “I always wanted to run a marathon, write a novel, etc..” there are just as many things that they have done which I admire but simply can’t or won't do, from either a lack of dedication and interest or lack of talent and skills.

When folks ask about marathoning and running 26.2 miles, "how can you do that?" I usually answer, “it’s just a matter of body type” which I really believe, but, it also saddens me that if someone always ‘really wanted to do something’ they would have at least made some efforts. I think way more people can finish a marathon than who have, but of course, if you don’t want to enough, you simply won’t, and in fact, you shouldn't. It would be silly to do so if you think it silly to do so. 

And if you either believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right on either way.

This leads me to my fav writing instructor Chuck Wendig. Well, he’s not really my instructor, just someone I follow, buy his kindle books on writing and read his blog. (and, he gave me a retweet recently, which made me glow for a bit and say “yes!” to myself not altogether silently.)

As always, I would love to meet him for coffee for just 15 minutes, which is kind of my test after reading pretty much anything. If I’ll share a CafĂ© Americano with you, then I probably think you’re cool as hell. Or hot as ice, or something.

Anyways, he sort of puts it in the Yoda philosophy of  “Do, or do not do. There is no Try.”  Check out his banners, make a parallel to your running goals, (it's not hard) or, if writing is something you wish to ‘do’ not  try, then buy his stuff. By the way, this is written under no connection or influence or correspondence with him.  In fact, chances are he’s on the phone with his lawyers suing me for infringement right now, in which case, I'll at least I’ll see him in court, if not for coffee. (check out his blog here.)


LBTEPA said...

so have you rung up this bloke to invite him for a coffee yet? :P

Mark Matthews said...

Yes, a subpoena has been served.

Cait the Arty Runnerchick said...

good points, there are always various factors separating 'i want to' from 'i did' and one of the most important is the actual desire/drive to. now i really agree with u that running has the body type factor...or mostly how well u can be. i do have to say that i have said many a time, "if flipping Oprah can do a marathon, then i have to believe anyone can." with that, of course it may not be all running and times could be thrown out the

Britt said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. If you don't do something regularly to achieve your goals, then you never will. Yes, there are obstacles. Yes, the unexpected happens. You adapt, you adjust, and sometimes those goals change along with you. But without conscious effort.... it's hard to get there.

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