Happy 2019, you guys! Fat Writer Running here with an all-new blog for the all-new year! In this post, as seems fitting on a day when many reflect and make resolutions, I want to talk about the blessing and challenge of ambition. But first, it’s been a while so let’s get a nice fire going and chat for a little bit about what’s been going down.
First things first, I’m not fat anymore, you guys. By the medical definition, I mean. I dropped beneath the cut off for obesity a while back but “About Average for an American Man over the Age of 20 Writer Running” is a pretty lousy title for a blog so I’m not changing it. All-in I’ve lost over 145 pounds in the last 18 months with my patented methodology of eating well and exercising regularly without doing drugs or getting surgeries or sacrificing small animals to demons or anything.
I also finished my first half-marathon in October and that was incredibly awesome. I ran in the Columbia Gorge and the weather and the scenery and the experience was beautiful and, as corny as this might sound, completely life-affirming. I was the kid in gym class that couldn’t make it around the track and I ran 13.1 miles with hundreds of other people. In training up for the half-marathon I’d done 13.1 mile runs several times already but the experience of doing it with that crowd and with my wife waiting for me at the finish line was something I’ll never forget. I was humbled and proud and sweaty and I immediately started thinking about when I was going to do it again.
About a week after I crushed that half-marathon, I also finished a draft of a new book that I’m pretty excited about. I’ll be editing it for a while but expect to be talking a lot about it sooner rather than later.
So, I haven’t been blogging but I’ve been running and I’ve been writing and rocking out with my crazy long hair out. Which, believe it or not, is a great way to segue into this blog post about ambition.
I remember a few years ago after a friend made a sideways comment I got self-conscious about having a reputation as someone that was always starting things but never finishing them. I would get excited about doing a new podcast or making a board game or something but with everything else I was already committed to I found that too often I was abandoning things I wanted to do but just couldn’t manage. When I have guests over I cook way too much, at work I volunteer to do more than my fair share, and when I set deadlines for myself they tend to be insanely aggressive. I feel most at ease in the crunch and if I hit a target, I don’t rest– I pick a more difficult target. Nothing makes me more anxious than missing a deadline or failing to meet a goal even if those deadlines and goals are ridiculous. It’s been a personal journey for me to figure out how to temper this tendency, how to hold on to my verve and enthusiasm without burning myself out. Ultimately, I’ve come to appreciate that this internal wrestling match is a fundamental part of who I am and while I don’t want it to get out of control, my ambition is my greatest and most cherished asset.
Every great bold thing starts with ambition. It starts with looking at where you’re at and imagining where you want to be and telling yourself “yeah, I got this.” That’s the very first step on what’s sometimes a really long path. Writing, running, and living– there are no savants here, just ambitious people who read a book one time and said “I can do that too” or saw someone run by from the front room of the living house and believed “I can keep up with that.” And sometimes you can’t do it! Sometimes the ambition reaches way too far and you stumble and you miss the mark. Real ambition, the kind that gets you up over mountains and finishes the next novel and the next even when you’re not sure if it’s going to end up on a shelf anywhere other than your office, says “I learned for that- and this next time, I won’t make the same mistake.”
I was going to write a blog post announcing the end of the the Fat Writer Running series. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. I felt like I hadn’t been keeping up on it and knowing it was out there not being updated even though I had all these grand ideas for it, made me feel lousy. When I started blogging on my website– almost exactly five years and 86 posts ago— I had this idea that I would be making weekly updates. Every once in a while I’m reminded I haven’t done that and I make a renewed effort to do it again. The big idea with the FWR series was that I was going to pre-write everything and just queue them up. I never managed to pre-write anything. I just got overextended. I still have these ideas and topics I want to dive into from the gender politics of weight loss to recipes to extended metaphors about running and writing and all kinds of other silly stuff. And I know as I write this that I might not be able to devote the time I want to devote to this. But I’m not going to end it and I’m not going to give up on it.
My resolution for 2019 isn’t to do more ambitious stuff. I don’t need New Years for that. That’s my life. I’m already registered for a full marathon in April and I’m going to run the Gorge half-marathon again in the fall. I’m working out training schedules to increase speed and endurance. I’m plotting sequels to books and juggling as many writing projects as ever with the confidence of a workaholic on a bender. My resolution for 2019 is to not give up on my big ideas and bigger dreams even if I can’t make them happen when I want them to happen. My resolution for 2019 is to shoot for the stars and if I get caught up in the ceiling of my house or if I fall back down to earth, just keep building new rockets until I get there.
Happy New Years, you guys. Do amazing things and never ever stop.
Inspiring, Erik! Nothing is more motivating than seeing someone else succeed in a goal…and then reading their rousing message about it!