Friday, August 9, 2013

Walking "Above the Clouds"

Last Saturday I "raced" over 6 miles. Uphill. Starting at an elevation of 7200 feet and ending at over 9700 feet.

The air is thin. My legs were cramping and contracting the first three miles. And I was pretty sure I should have hopped on the ambulance as it came down the mountain.

Racers only continued to pass me and I didn't look up near often enough to enjoy the gasp-worthy views.

Most of the race my mind was empty of all thought and processes, except getting. up. the. mountain.

The writing process is like our beautiful Steens Mountains.

It's a looooong hike.

And often times your legs are more sore than you think is possible to push them forward one more step. But the pain is greater in stopping than to just keep going.

Those first few miles of learning how to race, of pushing through the pain, seem like forever. Is it really worth the pain just to cross the finish line?

All your companions that started with you at the gun's bang are already yards ahead of you, climbing the hills as though they were mole hills. Some you've left behind, but it feels too much like you're the last one to cross the finish line as it only gets further and further away.

But then the three mile mark hits and your legs are used to the fast forward motion.
Your arms start swinging harder and your pace picks up speed. You're learning how to do this. You've got this and you can see the next mile marker around the next bend. The challenge of it all isn't quite so daunting.

Four miles. You're actually picking up speed, but still focused on putting just one foot in front of the other. That's all that matters. Not who is passing you. Not who you are passing. It's just one foot in front of the other.

Mile five hits and only 1.2 miles are left. Wow. This is the peak. You really can do this. There is a certain euphoric high that hits right about here and nothing much seems to matter but continuing toward the finish line.

Then you round the corner and see...see the finish line way, way, way up at the top of the final .2 miles. The hardest climb yet. The kind that pulls at your calves and tightens your muscles. You're nearly bent over and no hard swing of your arms is going to bring you up that much faster. But the spectators are cheering you on. Yelling to push forward. To make it. To finish STRONG.

And nothing else matters but crossing that finish line with everything you've got. You made a goal. You finished it. You made it.

With the writing life, the end result isn't often crossing that finish line. The finish line just moves toward a new goal, but don't we all have those mile three moments when we don't feel we can make it anymore and have to break through the pain and just keep going? We all have those moments when we crest that final long rise and see the big hill up ahead of us.

Maybe it's learning POV. Or character arc. Or marketing.

Or saving money for that big writing conference.

Or pushing send on a proposal.

My mom, finishing the race strong!
Or getting a book into publication.

It's a big hill.

People are passing us by, taking that big hill as though it were nothing, finishing before us. It's hard to watch everyone else getting to our goal before we do. But the time we are taking to climb those preceding hills are making us stronger. Preparing us for that final hill that could take all energy out of our legs and drain the air from our lungs.

Some walk (or run) at a faster pace than us. We can't sit and compare--as easy as that is-- to what others are doing better. It's an individual journey. An individual race. And our greatest competitor is ourselves. Embrace the battle from within and defeat the lies threatening to muddy your journey.

Because the finish line is just up ahead. And you're getting closer with every step you take.

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people. 


Beth K. Vogt said...

Love the analogy -- and the photo of your mom!
Brava for both of you, Casey!

Casey said...

It was a loooong hike! But a good one! And my mom even broke a record set on that mountain over a decade ago!

Unknown said...

WOW, good job on the hike!

You're so right, Casey...we just can't compare ourselves. It ALWAYS leads to stress or disappointment or tension. It's probably what I struggle with most as a writer, so your post definitely resonated with me. Thanks for the wise words!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

What a great post, Casey. And I'm so proud of you for accomplishing that race. I don't think I could have done it.! :)

Your words on comparing were spot on for me. I struggle with this sometimes. God always reminds me that He has my path lined out already. It's going to look different than the paths of others walking near me. And that's okay.

Thanks for your encouraging words today!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, today is the day for inspirational posts! Thanks Casey!

You are so right. Each journey is unique and for reasons we may not understand. We have to keep pushing on and hope that it all becomes clear one day!

Congrats on achieving one big goal. Makes me want to get outside and walk! (Not run!)


Pepper said...

WTG, Case!!! What a great reminder

Casey said...

Melissa, definitely emotions that fit mine like fingers in a glove. It can be SO hard, but when released, it makes a huge difference for our emotional and mental lives. ;)

Casey said...

Definitely true for me, Jeanne. Especially when it comes to where I should be on my writing progress. When I don't have a craft partner to compare notes with, etc. But God has GOT this. I've seen it over and over again. So I'm trusting and it's actually pretty exciting. :)

Casey said...

Yes, I love that promise, Sue that it will GET clear someday! Like climbing to the top of that mountain where the air is thing, but oh-so clear. And suddenly it all makes sense why we made that hike.

Casey said...

For me too, Pep.