A few weeks ago I got a surprise in the mail from a dear friend. A book, "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," by Haruki Murakami. A Post-It note attached to the cover read: "Running + Writing + Japan = Randy."
What this dear friend didn't know is that I don't run any more. I stopped about five years ago when my knees quit on me. The breaking point came when one day I could barely make it up the stairs of our four-story townhouse.
Sorry, a seven-year-old interrupted my story. He was supposed to be asleep. It's 10:45 and he just pushed me out of my own bed. This happens all too often, more than I'd like to admit. It's a constant battle that only parents can understand. It brings up another important part of this story. I don't write much these days, either. I can't imagine anyone reads this blog any more and I can't blame them. I rarely post to it and when I do, it's usually only for something newsworthy. This blog hasn't been a writing journal in a long time.
Which brings me to the reason I stopped blogging, which was so that I could devote more time to writing my second novel. That seemed like a good idea at the time, but the reality is that I haven't done as much work on the novel as I'd like. It's still unfinished, six years after I started it. The only reason it hasn't died is my writer's critique group and guilt keep it on life support.
It used to be easy for me to write, but to write you can't be distracted. You need to focus on nothing but what you're writing. That's not easy to do when you have a new second-grader coming into your bed at 10:45 and pushing you and your laptop out of bed.
All of this ties together. Really it does. Just stay with me.
Back to that book I got in the mail. I read it and really didn't think much of it. Murakami is not an author I've read before. He's one that I probably should have read, but I can say that about a good many talented authors out there. Murakami has everything I once dreamed of having. He's considered a brilliant author and he's got thousands of adoring fans that clamor for his books. But I can't imagine that the book I read is a reflection of his true talents. It's a journal and it reads like one. It certainly didn't inspire me to want to read any of his novels.
What it did inspire me to do was run. Murakami is older than I am and he has battled through knee problems just like mine. And he has won. He competes in marathons and in triathalons every year. So I thought if he could do it, why can't I?
So when I got home from work today, I told my wife that I was going to go for a run. As if it was something I still did every day. I laced up the old running sneakers and stretched out my muscles as much as they would let me. And then I hit the pavement.
You know what? It felt good. Not great, just good. But it was perfect temperature, about 70 degrees, a little windy, but nice. I chugged along at an intentionally slow pace and the farther I went, the more confident I got. I even passed one runner. Okay, she was a mom pushing a baby and chatting on the cell phone while running. But it was a start.
A start. A start at running again. And writing again. You see, the two go-hand-in-hand. This is my personal quest, to get back what my dear friend remembered me having, something that I'd lost over the course of the last few years.
My hope is that running will also inspire me to write, the same way it does for Murakami. It used to work for me as well. I'm hoping it will again. This journal entry is the first indicator that maybe, just maybe, I'm not running on empty.