Catching a cold on New Year’s Day really bummed me out. Mostly because getting sick annoys me. The scratchy throat. The cough that feels like I’m about to, at any moment, bring up one of my lungs. Instead, it’s the clumpy, green mucus I hack up. The nasal congestion and my nose that becomes so raw from blowing it the skin peels off in my hand. The sleepless nights (because as soon as I lay down in bed, the cough that I thought had gone away reappears to keep me up all night). The lack of energy, which keeps me from writing and doing the things I love.
Oh, yes, Lord, I was sick and tired … and tired of being sick. Although it took me a few days to realize it, I ended throwing my own self-pity party. And that sent me spinning. I couldn’t really get myself moving. Not with my writing. Not with my running. Not with life in general. I felt like 2018 sucker punched me, like the joke was on me. Or I was the joke. I felt stuck, like I was moving nowhere fast.
Then something happened. Three things, actually.
The first occurred last night after I had read a few more chapters of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. From our very cluttered coffee table, I picked up Oprah Winfrey’s new book, The Wisdom of Sundays. Orpah’s first words of wisdom, just before the Introduction, instantly had me changing my thinking: “All of us are seeking the same thing. We share the desire to fulfill the highest, truest expression of ourselves as human beings.” That was when I realized I was in the throes of a woeful, and silly, self-pity party. That was a powerful moment when I realized I had to change, and that meant it was time to change my attitude.
The second change occurred when I got up this morning (Saturday, 13 January) and took myself to my favourite Second Cup location to write. I set to work on a new story, one I know will become a full-length novel (or novella at the least). There, holed up at my usual table in a corner of the café, my hand sped across the page (I still like to write my first drafts longhand) of my Moleskine notebook. I felt the energy, the exhilaration of beginning a new project and watching it unfold. It reminded me (and I needed reminding) of the thing I love to do most in life: write. I felt the restlessness beginning to ebb. I was finding my feet again.
The third shift occurred this afternoon on the way back from Loblaws. Driving home, the blinding afternoon sun had me eager to get out for a run. I saw several people outside running, braving the frigid temperatures (-21°C/-6°F with the wind chill), and I desperately wanted to be one of those people. Just getting over this cold, I knew that wasn’t a good idea. But an alternate solution was open to me, and that was head to the gym in my condo building and run on the treadmill. Not my favourite way to run, but it was a way to get me completely out of this funk. So, once the groceries were away, I changed and made my way to the gym. I ran for thirty minutes, and running brought clarity. I had gotten off track. I’d forgotten that all it takes to get moving — and to keep moving — is to write. Every day. That one act keeps me sane and happy and fulfilled. It is the truest expression of myself.
Feeling Like My Old Self Again
The sun has set. And there is, once again, a little bounce in my step. Actually, I feel quite energized, as if I’ve had too much caffeine. (In fact, I’ve almost completely eliminated caffeine from my diet; now I drink decaf 98% of the time.) When I’m writing and running — like I did today — there is a natural ebb and flow to life. Everything old seems new again. And my creativity spills over into other spheres of my life. Like in the kitchen. Tonight, I took great liberties with Max and Eli Sussman’s Shellfish Shells (from their cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People), making manicotti instead. And I switched out the canned tomatoes for fresh, which I think always add more depth and flavour to the sauce.
I am once again hopeful for the days ahead. And for that I can thank Oprah. In her book she writes: “I believe part of my calling on Earth is to help people connect to ideas that expand their vision of who they really are and all they can be.” Yes, with The Wisdom of Sundays, you’ve helped me see exactly that.
Where do you find yourself on your journey? Do you see who you really are and all you can be? What is your top goal for 2018? Let me know in the comment sections below.
P.S.: My top goal for 2018 is to publish my next novel, Freestyle Love, to rave reviews.