Dear Seattle: A Love Letter

Dear Seattle,

There is something humble about the way you sneak into my life every day. A fleeting glimpse of the Space Needle out the bus window. The tap-tap-tap of a queen’s confident stride down a 2am street. A dazzle of pink spreading across the mountain-tipped sunrise. You slide unassumingly into my morning smile as I remember: I live here.

To think that it’s been a year already. A year of Orca Cards and coffee shops. Of library books and houseplants. Turbulant cycles of summer and rain. Every day I wake up feeling privledged. My morning tea comes wrapped in a felicitous notion of belonging.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved a city before. The picturesque cobbles of an old English town and the tolling of bells hung high in a Minster. There I learned how to live. I learned how to break my heart, how to forget. But here, with you Seattle, I’m learning to be. Just to be. Nothing more complicated.

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Excuses (Part 2): 887 Miles to Go

IMG_1394Today is the 102nd day of 2017. In that time, I’ve run a measly 113.47 miles. I’ve lost on average zero pounds and mostly just shifted my inches from one part of my body to another. Somehow, I’m slower than I was at the beginning of the year and feel like I’ve made no progress at all. I knew going into this year that running 1,000 miles was a lofty goal. I also knew that running my first half-marathon would take work. But I knew I was up for the challenge. And then the excuses started.

I make excuses in all parts of my life – not just when it comes to running. But that doesn’t make them any more valid. There are plenty of times when “I don’t want to” turns into “I can’t because…” That mental shift gives me leeway to skip a run or eat ice cream even when I know perfectly well I’m making a bad decision. Here are the top offenders:

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Excuses (Part 1)

Today is the 102nd day of 2017. In that time, I’ve written a measly two blog posts. Two. That means there have been 100 days this year that I haven’t posted anything. What a sad state. I had grand intentions of spending more time writing this year. Not only did I want to continue my passion for personal blogging, but also to explore the realm of short stories and poetry. Instead, I haven’t.

There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. If I am totally honest, none of them stands up to scrutiny. No matter how well-defended or how deeply felt, they are at their core just excuses. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Listen Up

img_0578The United States is going through an identity crisis. Or perhaps more accurately, it’s going through an increasingly intense cultural shouting match. The narrative of “us vs. them” has seeped into everyday life; both my news and my newsfeed are consumed by divisiveness. Outrage is ubiquitous. Political decisions are followed by opinion pieces are followed by protests are followed by Facebook posts. We have reached a point where nearly everyone is angry or afraid or ashamed. No one feels represented. No one feels protected. Even if you personally don’t feel endangered, this cultural antagonism threatens something vital in us all. This feeling isn’t specific to one group – both liberals and conservatives see their values under attack.

All politics aside, one thing is clear: something is happening.

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989 Miles to Go: Starting Points

The beginning of a story is essential. It’s where everything starts. In science, you can’t have Δx unless you have x. In literature, you can’t have a climax unless you have an exposition. You can’t have a chicken without an egg… but that’s a bit circular. Forget about the chicken. Without a beginning that is catchy or engaging, we’d never get far enough into a story to care about its end. This story is no different.

Realistically, the dramatic arc is very predictable. Either I will run 1,000 miles or I will not run 1,000 miles. Along the way, I will be disheartened and encounter difficulty. I will probably have some quirky experiences that provide lessons about life. I will have days of triumph and days of failure, and in 11 months and 21 days, I will know whether this story has a happy ending.

We all know happy endings are never that clear.

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Write.

Easy reading is damn hard writing.

These wise words come from Nathaniel Hawthorne (maybe) and represent the essence of one of my two 2017 New Years Resolutions. Last year, I read a lot. I wrote some – mostly for work and on my personal blog. This year, I want to push myself further. I haven’t written a short story since high school. Fiction is not my forte. I firmly believe that writing broadly and without reservation will help me become both a better writer and a better reader. Reading and writing are essential parts of me – and they are both parts I want to continually build on. Therefore, in 2017 I resolve to write more – more blog posts, more short stories, more poetry. To help keep myself accountable, I intend to enter writing competitions and post my work here.

I must admit, my true inspiration for this New Years Resolution came from an unlikely source. Poo. More specifically, I was one of the winners of DefeatDD’s third Poo Haiku campaign. This was the first “writing competition” I’ve entered since elementary school – and it energized me. Winning was just the icing on the cake.

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Seriously, I’m an award-winning poo-et. It’s my only claim to fame. Let me have it.

Unlike reading challenges or my 2017 fitness goal, my writing goals for this year are a bit more nebulous. There is an endless selection of writing competitions that take many different forms. I plan on trying my hand at a few different styles of writing and getting inspiration where I can. My hope is to enter at least one competition a month – but I’m not sure how realistic this is. Also, some competitions have restrictions about posting your entry before the winner is announced.

To circumvent this, I will likely post what Anne Lamott calls “short assignments.” It’s the same concept as eating an elephant one bite at a time – breaking down a larger story into a series of smaller components. I like the concept, and it seems like a good a place as any to start my hand at the great wide world of authorship.

 

Read more.

Think.

Three brothers are wandering through a desert when they come across a merchant who has lost his camel… It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. Or perhaps a Paulo Coelho novel. These three brothers, the merchant and the camel are central characters in the origins of serendipity. After being accused of stealing the camel, the brothers are saved from an unfortunate end when the camel in question appears in an instant of fate and good luck. That’s what serendipity is. Fate and good luck.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of both fate and good luck. As much as I pretend to be a faithless curmudgeon, I have a stubborn belief that the universe won’t push me off a cliff. I might jump off the cliff, but even then I believe there will be a feather mattress at the bottom. I might freak out a bit while I’m falling, but in the end, I know I will be alright. Call it faith. Call it privilege. Call it serendipity.

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