Monday, November 5, 2012

Pursuing Private Passions: Why Writing is Like Running

I like to write. I find it both challenging and fulfilling.

Crossing the finish line with my son on his first 5K
I like to run. I find it, well, both challenging and fulfilling. Hmm, deja vu.
Lately I have been thinking how much these activities have in common for me. 

Not that I am particularly skilled at either endeavor. I edited the Engineering magazine in college, and have had several technical and academic articles published over the years. But nothing for pay - although I am open to that :). Now I ramble on in semi-regular blog posts. I am a casual runner, and enter the occasional 5k, where I am usually in the middle of the pack. Certainly nothing to brag about.  But considering I spent my teenage years avoiding athletics, and I am at an age when many of my peers are developing a meaningful relationship with their La-Z-Boy recliner, I feel I am ahead in my own personal race.

And that is my point. It is good to have extracurricular pursuits that feed a passion and in some way better us. Something more than just work, chores, and exercise. Sure, running is good cardio. But it is also provides a time of quiet reflection, an adjustable level of intensity, and goals to track (if you so desire). I also enjoy organizing my thoughts and attempting to communicate them in a clear - and hopefully interesting - manner. I am one of those quirky individuals who appreciates a good turn of a phrase, and derives particular satisfaction from being able to share it with others, and perhaps evoke a response. And those skills can serve well professionally.

What really sealed the running/writing analogy for me was the satisfaction I derive from the effort of each, and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. Compare that to post-chores; generally you are simply glad they are done. And we all need down-time, but when I let the television fill those blocks of unstructured time with banal sitcoms less interesting than the commercials that pervade them, I get a sinking feeling.

I must admit that my target audience for this message is myself as much as anyone else. I don't get out for a run nearly as often as I should or would like to, and I have let my blog lie fallow for several months. I hoped this topic might motivate and reinvigorate. (Another shared characteristic - these activities tend to reward perseverance and penalize a hiatus.)

What About You?

So what floats your boat? Do you have some endeavor that feeds your soul and leaves you feeling better for having done it? If not, find one! Brush up on your French. Pull that guitar out of the closet. Learn to play the ukulele (I hear it's fun). Take that Tai Chi class. Dust off your yoga mat. Tend your garden. Volunteer your time (another of my passions). 
I would love to hear your stories and ideas.

Post that blog entry. Now where are my running shoes?