August 15, 2022

The two great loves of my life (apart from Jesus) have been writing and running. One, I am certain was a gift. From the moment Mrs. Satterfield put a pen in my hand, I was writing stories, and I haven’t stopped since. The other, I am certain was not a gift—certain, in fact, that it was probably the last thing I was meant to start doing. I’ve been running for half my life now, and it has never not been a fight. I am not built to be a runner. I’ve felt it in every injury, every setback, every heave of my asthmatic lungs. Rare has been the season when I haven’t felt it every time I hit the pavement. When I was young, I believed the way to get ahead was to only focus on the things I was good at, and that, to me, was writing and academia and virtually nothing else. But despite this belief, I chose to start running, and I chose to keep running, even when it became abundantly clear that I was not good at it. And perhaps this betrays the fact that my internal and external selves weren’t as aligned as I thought, but I also think it points to something else I’m good at: near obsessive dedication to the things that matter to me. In my book club the other day, someone commented that you can’t “force” creativity, and I said that was true, but that you can create the habit of art—for in the end, all the talent in the world will get you nowhere if you don’t actually make time to write. And that got me thinking: despite the fact that writing is my gift and running is not, I still have to do things to cultivate both. So while I will always feel more at ease putting words on a page than logging miles on a road, in the end, I wonder how different they really are, these things I orient my days, my life, my world around—these things that have become so intrinsically intertwined, I am certain I couldn’t do one without the other. To some extent, natural gifting does matter. But if something calls to you enough to make you stick with it, come flawed genetics or busted tendons, isn’t that what matters more?

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