The Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week comes to me from Jan, who tells me "He ran on the beach, with the waves lapping at his aching legs. What is he running from?" (My challenge, "symmetry", goes to Cope.)
I woke up early, forcing myself onto my feet before I could change my mind. My bedroom was sparse, which was how I wanted it. No distractions. No remorse. No regrets. I pulled on running clothes and running shoes, trying to get myself out there before I fully realized what I was doing. I put my keys and my IPod into my pockets, then headed out the door, locking it behind me.
I stood stock still, looking as far as I could to one side, and then the other. The ocean was there, remote and implacable, roaring constantly, underscoring everything you said and did. It was time to get to work, I thought, it's not going to get any easier. Just do it. Start moving. It will never get any harder than it is the first day, and it will get easier. So just start.
I started the IPod, letting James Hetfield's angry bark motivate me. I went back to the first album, needing the uptempo rhythms and anger of a band ready to take on the world. It also reminded me of high school- when I used to come in the winter to hit the weights and stay strong, the coach who supervised us used to play this tape over and over. I walked down to the beach, starting along the hard sand, letting a brisk walk get me warm.
Caroline had started the fight again last night. Since the divorce, she became more controlling, complaining about every trip, every obligation that wasn't, in her view, necessary. She had a point- I had made plenty of money, with more to come before this contract ran out. There were beaches in North Carolina- I didn't have to come out here.
When the calendar turned, I had to get serious. I had to simplify, get clean and pure. I had to get away from them, from story time and runny noses and waiting with the other minivans at pickup time. I needed to train, focusing on nothing else, building uo the endurance i would need come August. Despite what Caroline says, I do love my girls. But they're draining.
I started a slow jog, my joints creaking as I moved. The fog was still lingering, clouding everything other than what was in front of me. I did this, flew away from aggravation and obligation to come out to Southern California to start working out by myself, getting into fighting shape for the season to come.
Yes, I was going to get paid, regardless of how I performed. There was something else at work, though- I was starting to measure myself against the greats, and no amount of money would help me there. I had done something that very few had ever done- ascended to the very top of my field, becoming among the very best in the world.
I broke into a genuine run, finding a nice rhythm against the dark sand, the sea pounding at my feet, the drumming thundering in my ears. I know the girls would rather I be there to pick them up after violin practice. But I wanted to show them that when you have a chance to do something, you do it, as hard as you can for as long as you can. You make sure it gets everything you have while you're young enough to give it. You do it, the only thing you've ever been any good at, for as long as they will let you.