This is the part of the year where everything seems to converge and my time and energy run low, the gas tank puttering on fumes, the next gas station a couple of impossible miles ahead. Soccer is getting into full swing, which means I’m losing out on a couple entire evenings every week, and several hours on the average weeknight. School tends to pick up during this time as well, as we start to look forward toward the end of the year: conferences, scheduling for next year, graduation, all of which says nothing about the old refrain of grades, grades, grades. It’s colder out, which makes it harder to get out for my runs, which makes me more likely to miss them, which has its own sapping effect. And, of course, the days are shorter, so there is literally less daylight in which to get done the things that need doing.
Again: I’m tired.
The inclination is to just let a few things slide. Miss a run here and there. Let a day’s worth of writing get away from me. Shell out for some fast food instead of cooking a proper meal.
But momentum matters, and it cuts both ways.
I’ve worked really hard to establish a momentum which has me writing every day, exercising almost every day, waking up early, doing a decent job balancing work with family. And I know that that momentum will survive a skipped workout, a slipped writing session, a meal of junk food. But just like the slow orbit of the moon is slowly disrupting the earth’s rotation, little things add up over time. Skipping a workout on Monday makes it easy to skip the one on Tuesday as well. Leaving out the writing time on Thursday makes me realize just how nice it would be to have that extra time on Friday, too.
It’s why we have the recognizable, lamentable stereotype of the person who retires and develops Alzheimer’s or dementia in just a few short years. The routine goes away, there’s not nearly so much to occupy their time, and suddenly, they’re no longer able to accomplish a fraction of what they once could.
Writer types know how hard it is to protect their writing time, especially when the routine is disrupted. It only gets worse when nature itself is conspiring against you by literally removing minutes and hours from the day. The truth is, I know it won’t be that big a deal if I let the project breathe for a few days while I catch up on some other work, and it certainly won’t hurt me to catch up on a little sleep instead of rising at 5 to go for a run. But I think it becomes even more important to be true to our goals when it’s hard to follow through on them.
It’s like a placekicker who never misses a goal in practice but shanks his kicks during the game. Well and good to deliver when it’s easy, but it doesn’t help much if you can’t get the work done when it matters. Which is not to say that the work matters more at this time of year than at any other — unless you’re lucky enough to have a deadline looming — but I just come back to knowing that the momentum matters. My momentum will survive a day or two of slippage, but an entire week? A month?
Winter has its hooks in. I’m tired. We’re all tired.
But there is still work to do.
As a great American once said, we do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
So I guess I’ll find a way to lace up for my run later this afternoon, even though I missed it this morning. And I’ll find a way to carve out a few more minutes for my writing, too.
Luckily, the kids are out of town for the night. Maybe this is why god invented grandparents.
This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.