You want to reach new shores.
Who lets got of the old to dare something new will lose their footing. That’s what I’ve learned. Right now, I’m in the mountains. Hiking. Maybe you know this, too: There’s a little stream and you don’t want your feet to get wet. After all, it’s still a long way to go and wet socks make for blisters. So, you use the wooden beam that leads across the stream. You balance around on it, put one foot in front of the other but then… The beam starts to shake. You stand on one leg, stumbling, wobbling and can barely remain upright. You don’t have much time to ponder what to do next so that you won’t fall. During your hike this moment only takes maybe a few seconds. Then you regain your footing, or you see a dry rock protruding from the water. That saves you and you safely reach the opposite bank. In life these moments of stumbling are often a lot longer.You’re on a path you’ve never been on before. For me this new path was writing my novel. I had given up my triathlon training, my days, weeks and months didn’t have this framework anymore that competitive sports dictates: Training whenever you have free time, before work, after work, on the weekend, two major races per year, build up, climax, recovery and so on and so forth.
I had to find a new routine.
But you can’t replace training with writing 1:1. Especially not if you have ants in your pants. But that’s something I’m only realizing now. At first I pretended that said body (the one with ants in the pants) did not belong to me. I completely ignored it and followed the urge to write with everything I had. And writing means: Sitting still. And to let the ants be ants. At some point my legs were hurting – from sitting. (If you’re interested, it was my piriformis and both my knees that were hurting.) So, I built myself a standing desk to be able to continue. But pretty soon thereafter that did not work anymore either. Utter exhaustion. And then the doubts started creeping in: “Why are you doing all this? Just quit it! Who knows if anyone will be interested in what you are doing here!” It was essentially the same inner voice that keeps making my ears bleed in Ironman races from about mile 9 of the run. At least that was something familiar. However, this voice was a lot more brutal. It told me things like: “You? A novelist? Hahaha! You don’t believe that, do you? Just leave it.” I was completely pooped. There I was not training at all anymore, and my body was hurting more than it did during the intense periods of my Ironman training. I felt anchorless.
In my case the dry rock that saved me was a human.
I already told you about my Yoda friend, my mentor. (Hella. Who gave me the book lamp.) Hella was my dry rock. She made two things clear to me: 1. That I was wobbling. (Believe it or not, I was not aware of that.) 2. That it’s perfectly normal to be wobbly when starting something new. Just this knowledge made me feel more stable. So, I was planted firmly with both feet again but had not reached the other embankment. To manage that I had to understand how I am built. That my body just can’t sit all the time but that the ants need to be let out of the pants once in a while. So, I made myself a schedule when and for how long I’d write and how and when I’d need to take breaks doing what kind of sports. All that happened during the lockdown: I had to jump around a lot at home, yoga, gymnastics, strength training. Once in a while I also rode my bike and – if my knees allowed it – I even ran a little. Things got better and my body started hurting a bit less.
If you’re planning to embark on a new endeavor, don’t let yourself get deterred because you’re stumbling a bit and don’t know how to continue, wish to turn back time, get back to how it was before and just wanting to stop.
There is always a rescuing dry rock somewhere.
That is my true conviction. I’m also honestly convinced that it helps you in your search for your footing to listen inside yourself and get to know yourself better and better.