As I sit down to write this the date on the previous post taunts me. Three whole months? He mocks (for dates, I’ve decided, are inherently male), and I’m tempted to make excuses, explain how with a new job and a marathon goal and the onset of colder months I’ve just not had the time. But I won’t, because apologizing is something I’m trying to do less of these days.
But I will say this: I feel that this post has been written a thousand times over in my head. As I walk to work, or run along the Seine, while I’m doing the dishes or just before I fall asleep. The words are different each time but the message, resoundingly remains the same.
Eyes on your own work.
It’s neither revolutionary nor particularly profound but what it is; is true, and practical and something I’ve forgotten right when I needed it most.
Teachers are fond of this expression, and the irony of working as one and saying it is not lost on me. The logic goes that by looking over someone else’s shoulder, and copying their work, you might just end up replicating their mistakes.
For me, ‘eyes on your own work’ means two things:
1/ Stopping the comparison cycle
When you’re standing on a beach next to 150 of your bronzed colleagues, it’s hard to remember that you actually love your pale skin. When even the grandmothers and the injured overtake you in the Parc Monceau, it’s difficult to keep in mind that you’re just starting out as a runner.
It’s taken awhile, but I’ve come to understand that my messiest effort, my most awkward passage of writing, my slowest kilometre, my poorest choice – holds more value than anything belonging to anyone else.
2/ Looking after myself
I’ve talked before about my Three Pillars of Grumpiness (needing to pee, being hungry and feeling cold); but only recently have I discovered my Four Necessities for Sanity. It seems they are:
– Getting enough sleep
– Not eating sugar
– Exercising regularly
– Saying ‘no’
Last week I let myself get overtired, and strung out on sugar; I was exercising but erratically and felt like I was constantly giving in to other people’s ideas. Which, while sustainable for a short while, eventually (as these things do) culminated in me crying my eyes out in the convenience store below my building at 11pm on a Friday night dressed as a cast member from Men In Black; ostensibly because deciding between buying a loaf of bread, some cheese and ham to make a sandwich, or buying the pre-prepared croque monsieur packet was just one straw too much.
Thankfully, the gentleman who runs the late-night store is hard to shock.
And so this week I’m being selfish. I’m sleeping and running and sticking to my guns and looking inward and forward, not up and around. Some good, old-fashioned tunnel vision is just what the doctor ordered.