Slowing down when the finish line is in sight 😳
Did a friend forward this to you? Subscribe here!
First things first: welcome to anyone who found this newsletter through Kelly Barrett’s article! What a treat to be included on a list of “feel-good newsletters” that will “boost your creativity (and mood).” When I started this project, I wasn’t sure how it would shake out or what path it would take. After reading Kelly’s interpretation and seeing the other excellent newsletters on her list, I feel like maybe I’m doing something right? At any rate, I hope you like it here and that you stick around! Feel free to hit reply and introduce yourself.
Moving on! When I last wrote, I told you I was taking a week off the newsletter because I had to finish the final-final-I-mean-it-this-time-final version of the novel I’ve been working on for the last five years. True to my word, I did not send out a newsletter. And while I’m not quite done with the book, I am much closer. Which is great, because I’m getting to the point where I never want to look at this book again.
I often feel this way at the end of a long project, and the only thing I can compare it to is running. Half marathons are my favorite distance, and the day of the race always unfolds the same way. I wake up early, drink a cup of coffee, and join the crowd at the starting line. When the gun goes off and we begin to run, I feel great. Joyous. Caught up in the possibilities ahead of me, the unknown wonders I might experience on my 13 mile journey.
Then, once a few miles are behind me, my body begins to understand the journey I’m on. A blister forms on my left toe, or I feel a stabbing side stitch. My legs turn to lead, or I trip on a curb, or my pace is so much slower than I anticipated. Other runners pass me, including an actual Vietnam veteran carrying a large American flag. (True story.) I always thought I was a decent runner, a solid middle-of-the-pack participant, but around mile 10 I realize I am a joke, decide I don’t deserve to be in this race, and consider dropping out and going to brunch instead. Other people go their whole lives without running a half marathon and they seem perfectly content. Why am I putting myself through this?
(This is a metaphor, but also the truth.)
And then I see the finish line. Even though the end is in sight, I still consider walking. It’s not like I’m going to break any records, or anyone is counting on me to finish strong. I’m the only one who cares about this race.
But I do care, and I’ve come this far, and I might as well pick up the pace and shave off a few seconds. Maybe someone I love is at the end, waiting to take a triumphant photo. Maybe they have really good snacks in the finishers chute. Maybe it doesn’t matter how much time it takes - maybe all those miles leading up to this moment were the ones that mattered.
When I finally cross the finish line, I am suddenly, deliriously happy. I think about how much stronger I am now that I was that morning, how far I’ve traveled in just a few short hours. As a volunteer drapes a medal over my head, I’m already thinking about the next race I’ll run, how all the things I learned this time will make it even better.
Which is a long way of saying this book is almost done, and I can’t wait to start the next one. 💛
📚 Hold Shelf 📚
I've been following Saeed for a few years - he was one of my favorite Buzzfeed editors and his Twitter account is a pure delight. Originally a poet, I was intrigued when he wrote a memoir, and didn't quite know what to expect. What I got was a raw and beautiful meditation on sex and sexuality, complicated families, and being true to yourself as a son, lover, writer, and human. How We Fight For Our Lives covers a lot of ground, yet is so graceful and sure-footed. I'm recommending it to everyone I know - starting here.
The Unexpected Joy of Repeat Experiences, New York Times. "There is joy in repetition partly because every human mind wanders. Consequently, we miss a substantial part of every experience." As a creature of habit, I felt both vindicated and gratified by this article! 🙈
In 2029, I'll Regret All My Hand-Wringing Over Social Media, The Cut. "I used to roll my eyes at mirror selfies and filtered Instagram shots. But now, at the age of 49, I’m wondering what purpose my grim restraint has served. I find myself taking more selfies, experimenting with lighting and filters, and chafing at pious calls for women to ignore the technological wonders that live in our pockets and to resist toying with the images we present to the world." 🤳
Jeopardy Isn't Just a Show, It's Home, Man Repeller. "At a time when the baseline national mood is so consistently chaotic, it is hard not to think of what endures and what doesn’t—and to want what is good to stay forever." This article takes a turn halfway through, and Reader, I wept! 🙌
A Tiny Challenge
The holiday season is upon us, and for the first time ever we put up outdoor lights. This week, think about small ways you can brighten up the world around you, whether it's a kind word, an unexpected treat, or a light that shines on the neighborhood even when you're inside, even when you can't see it.
See you next Sunday! 💌
Want to buy me a ☕️ to help fuel this newsletter?
Venmo: @Christine-Hennessey or PayPal Me.