The "D" Word

I want the body of an athlete, the mind of a poet, the soul of a pilgrim.

Instead, I have the body of a sloth, the mind of a dullard, and the soul of an amoeba.

I need to be more disciplined. I try, I really do. My new routine is supposed to be to rise at five o'clock in the morning, pray for half an hour, write my morning pages for half an hour, and then go running. It's a nice thought. When I do it, I enjoy it. I mostly want to sleep, though. It's very difficult to get my runner self, my writer self, and my disciple self to agree to getting out of bed all at once. It is amazing the bargaining I can do with them when I am in a semi-conscious state.

This was the conversation I had with myself this morning when my alarm sounded:

Runner Sarah: "Ugh. 5:00 already? Okay, just...hit the snooze. Just once."
Disciple Sarah: "But if you sleep for nine more minutes, that cuts into prayer time."
Runner Sarah: "It's just nine extra minutes. And anyway, I really don't know if I can run today. I mean, I am pretty tired. I was sick on Friday, and well, my body is still probably trying to recover. I probably should take it easy."
Writer Sarah: "Gah! Shut up! I'm trying to sleep! How can I be brilliant if my subconscious isn't allowed to process? Just chill out!"
Runner Sarah: "...and anyway, you haven't done laundry all weekend, so there's no telling where your running clothes are. You'll probably spend all your time looking for them. You really aren't going to have time to run today..."

So lucid, reasoning Sarah takes control, tosses off the covers, and puts both feet on the floor. That's the only thing that makes the other three shut up. That, and the promise of coffee.

So now I am up, and my coffee is in hand, and I am two-thirds of the way through my morning ritual. My inner selves are still whining, though they tend to taper off as I accomplish my tasks. Writer Sarah stops whining and is happy the moment I begin writing my Morning Pages. Runner Sarah will continue to whine throughout the run, until I finish and she says, "See? Now don't you feel great?" Even now, as I am writing, she is whining. Time to go run.

8:45 am

And so I forced Runner Sarah to put on her shoes and get out there. "But I'll get blisters," she protested, "and you know how much it hurts when I get blisters mid-run..." "Tie your shoes," I ordered.

Walking out the door, hand on the knob, she said, "It's going to be cold. I'm going to get cold!" I retorted, "Well, won't it be nice not to die of heat exhaustion for once?" I forced the headphones onto Runner Sarah's head, tightened up the arm band on the mp3 player (she complained about the music, of course), and pushed play. The first song was "Since You've Been Gone" (so okay, it's my nine-year-old's mp3 player) and Runner Sarah was off, fueled by the angst in the song. The run was very good.

I am not a disciplined person. I really just want to do whatever feels good at the moment. Sleeping feels good; running does not. Eating feels good; dieting does not. Wandering aimlessly feels good; praying does not. Watching TV feels good; writing does not. There are so many things in life that just don't sound fun when the time comes for me to have to do them, but I am learning that once I set my mind to it -- determine in my heart that I am going to participate -- I feel so great afterwards. The first two hours of my day are filled with such activities. I hate drudgery, and sometimes these activities seem like drudgery at first. But the reward is in the consistency. I have remained a spiritual infant for ten years because of inconsistency in my devotional life. I haven't written a thing worth mentioning because I've never committed myself to my gift and made the choice to write every day. I'm getting fatter by the month because I can't keep an exercise routine going.

I had a counselor tell me once that I needed to pick one area of my life and bring discipline to it. I melted into a pile. As an artist, I hate discipline. He told me that he goes running every day -- and he admitted to hating to run -- because he found that if he disciplined himself in one area, it seemed to bleed over into other areas of his life quite naturally. I am finding this to be true. One foot in front of the other; one pen stroke after the next; one prayer at a time. I may not ever become FloJo or Elizabeth Bishop or C.S. Lewis, but the reward is in the process, and in the knowledge that my Creator is pleased with my meager efforts.


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