5 years in training

I reached the end of a notebook today. Every time I get to the last page of a notebook it feels like an apt time to reflect. It’s a bit too unceremonious for my sentimental heart to simply shut the book, open a new one, and keep on trekkin.

This time I reflected back to page number 1, notebook number 1. When I started writing 5 years ago, it was because I had started thinking. I was thinking more than I was accustomed to, because I was spending a fair amount of time with absolutely no one else but me. I had been training for my first marathon.

You know that feeling when you sit back in your seat on the airplane and realize you are completely alone? All of a sudden you have no phone, no friends, no safety line. All you can do is shut your eyes and reflect. A friend of mine says she cries every time she flies. That’s what training for a marathon feels like. When you hit the finish line you feel a wave of success, freedom, and bliss. It’s unbelievable and unbeatable.


“I have learnt that everything in life is a mental game. No matter what the obstacle, it is always a mental game. If I want to accomplish life and career goals, I have to defeat the mental game on a daily basis. The end stretch will always be the toughest. But the finish line is so much more worth it. The little things will only get you down. Let them pass, as they will always turn out inconsequential in the long run. To live, you must let go. Live freely. Just be.”

I felt high and sage that day. I started writing that day. Some, as in the above, secretly to myself. Some to the world. An act that takes a combination of ego and vulnerability and thick skin and faith. An author I admire talks about the reaction from his family when he told them he’d become a novelist.

“‘Orhan, nobody understands life at twenty-two! Wait until you get older and know something about life, people, and the world- then you can write your novel.’ I was furious at these words, and wanted everyone to hear my reply: We write novels not because we feel we understand life and people but because we feel we understand other novels and the art of the novel and wish to write in a similar way. Now, thirty five years later I feel more sympathetic…For the past ten years I have been writing novels in order to convey the way I see life, the world, the things I have encountered, and the place where I live.” -The Naive and Sentimental Novelist Orhan Pamuk

Naïveté is a thing of beauty and humor. It can drive you to the ends of the world on a wild goose hunt. And when you’re old and grey and still haven’t found the damn wild goose, it lets you rest with a smile thinking about how epic the hunt was while everyone else wonders what the hell you’re so smug about.


“I feel accomplished, but I still don’t feel any closer to finding happiness. Or to figuring out where I want to go and who I want to be. I’m not sure I will ever find out, but I suppose that’s where all the fun of it lies. In not knowing. In searching and being hungry and being foolish.”

It’s impossible to know where the road will lead. When the goose is wild, we’ve no choice but to follow in suit. Some days were closer, some further. At the end, all we can hope for is that we drew a map clear enough for the next hunter.

“But as we all know, the place we return to is never the same place we left. In this sense, it was as if my novel-writing had traced not a circle, but the initial loop of a spiral…When novelists embark upon a new book, we draw on the accumulated experience of all our previous novels, and the knowledge gained from all those earlier volumes helps and supports us. But we are also entirely alone, just as we were when we wrote the opening sentence of our very first novel.” -Pamuk

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