I have been learning – probably since the first conscious day that I infant-army-crawled over to the shine on a finish line – to recognize the difference between being up for a challenge, and being up to it.
You see, I am always up for a challenge. My favorite phrases seem to be “Oh, yeah?” “Heck, yeah!” and “Watch me” (none of which have ever gotten me into anything less than magnificent trouble). I take dares like vitamins, I take “you can’t” statements as open invitations, and I climb the twisted ropes of impossible goals with a will because they take me past such interesting possible and near-impossible things.
But I am not always up to – capable and prepared for – a challenge. I often bite off more than I can chew. I prefer to win large or lose large, rather that fold or sit out.
When I started Apprentice Never Master two years go, I told myself I was going to post every day. Every single day. Rain or shine. Busy or dull. At home or on the moon. Come natural disaster or greatest fortune. For 365 days.
I barely made it three.
I was not prepared, did not have the grip, for the weight of that goal.
After a particularly fruitful road trip to visit some of the best friends fate has ever aligned, I came home with the understanding that if I didn’t write every day – if I didn’t do what I really, really wanted to do – my good friend, Bek was going to come after me with a spatula. As far as weapons go, spatulas are not very intimidating. But Bek is.
I wrote. Like Dickens. Like any other author of the time who was being paid by the word and was desperate to keep the work moving. Like an author who ruled by her own desires to craft and build and make, and her own fears of kitchen utensils.
I wrote thirty days in a row, and missed a day. I wrote sixty, and missed. A hundred, and missed. Finally, last year, I reached 263 days in a row, and almost melted into a pathetic puddle of humanity when I had to start the count over because of a string of days spent out of range of internet access.
And then, seven days ago, I finally did it. I posted my 365th blog post on 356 consecutive days.
To say that I let out a victorious whoop that shook sky and stone, rattled stars, woke blackness, and spun light would be an exaggeration. But not by much.
And after I had worn out my vocal chords on this barbaric yawp, and did the only thing that I could do.
I kept counting: 366, 367, 368…
And there is a new challenge – to see how much longer I can string these posts together, how much longer I can hang onto this growing chain of thought and creation – but it has a different feel.
I have already won the race, taken the prize. I am no longer reaching for a finish line. I hold the trophy, and am only competing with myself. Every day I set the mark one notch higher, but the last tick on the record books still belongs to me.
This is success. This is a competition with myself, from here on out, and it feels darn good.