Years ago I started running (for exercise, not from the law), and after about a year I decided to enter a 5K. It was a big deal for me because in all the time I’d been regularly running, I could never complete the 5K (3 miles) without stopping at least once or twice from burning lungs or heavy legs. I tried running in the morning and running at night, I ate carbs, protein or nothing beforehand, I bought new, expensive sneakers, I wore my old comfy sneakers. And still I couldn’t run 3 miles without stopping.
So on the morning of the 5K run I told myself that I would just do my best and that even showing up at 7 a.m. on a cold, overcast morning and being jostled in a crowd of 20,000 was a damn fine accomplishment for me. And off I went. Several times I thought I was going to have to stop but for whatever reason, I didn’t. I kept going. And miracle of miracles, I ran the whole race without stopping. The first time in my life! One of the race volunteers who hang out at the finish line to hand the runners a thimble-sized cup of water congratulated me.
“I can’t believe I did it!” I enthused between diaphragm-deep gasps for air. “I can’t believe I ran the whole 5K without stopping. I’ve never done that before!”
The volunteer gave me a funny look. “This wasn’t a 5K race,” he said. “This was a 10K.”
I stared at him for about a week.
I share this story to illustrate the power of our deepest beliefs and how they affect our lives. Another way to describe this is mind over matter. My mind—my belief—told me that I was incapable of running five kilometers without stopping, and so my body behaved as such. And yet, the fact was that I was actually capable of running ten kilometers without stopping. That’s the truth, not the less than 5K bullshit my mind kept telling me. (The “why” behind these beliefs is a whole other blog post.)
I’ve thought about that 5K—pardon me, 10K—a lot over the years and imagined how different my life would be today if only I could trick my mind at every turn like I inadvertently did on that day. But the mind, and its co-conspirator, the subconscious, is a crafty motherfucker.
And that is why I have to convince myself every day that I can and I will get published, and to send my work out despite my mind’s best efforts to persuade me that it’s a waste of time and I’ll never succeed and who do I think I am anyway and isn’t it easier to just put my dreams on the backburner and get on the path more traveled?
So, today I sent in my short story Full Circle to The Stoneside Corrective, a literary magazine (and, apparently, an indie publisher. Very indie. Available in one bookstore in Los Gatos, CA.) Full Circle is about a woman who, the more she tries to be herself, the more she seems to alienate the guy of her affections. And no it’s not autobiographical. Much.