Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Next Big Thing

Most of us are constantly looking ahead, instead of paying attention to what's right in front of us. How many times have you scheduled a trip or an event because you "need something to look forward to?" How often do you count down the minutes until 5pm? How often do you skim past most posts on social media, only pausing to comment or like on big announcements - the wedding, the baby, the new job?

In fact, you may have seen the title of this post paired with the image above, and felt a small thrill of anticipation. Is this post an announcement? A reveal? Am I about to embark on a new adventure and turn my world upside down?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the answer is: none of the above. There are no big changes on the horizon. I am not on the cusp of a cosmic shift. Everything is fine; I'm just chugging along. And even though things are mostly good, steady and fulfilling, I still feel a twinge of wistfulness, a tiny voice whispering "But what's next?" in my ear.  

I started thinking about this phenomenon when I followed the Boston Marathon earlier this week. Watching Desi Linden cross the finish line to win first place, 11 years after she first ran the race, made me cry at my desk. (To be fair, I cry easy.) The cold, the pouring rain, the fact that her winning time was not even her fastest, the way she hung back for a teammate and still finished first. What a race! What an accomplishment! What a Big Thing!  

If my first response to the Boston Marathon was tears, the second was jealousy. I, too, wanted to do something big. Not run a marathon, exactly (though I am not opposed to taking on 26.2 again one day), but something exciting and impressive, that required hard work and sacrifice. It's been a while since I've set a big, scary goal and worked for it. (Not counting novel-writing, which is a goal so big and so time-consuming that it's just part of the fabric of my life, a fear I live with and write through nearly every day, and nothing, at this point, out of the ordinary, which I guess is a pretty Big Thing when you think about it, but I digress.)

I'm not sure what my next challenge will be. There are some things I've been meaning to try, some directions I'd like to push myself in. Lately I'm drawn to physical challenges. This past winter, I started focusing on speed during my runs, and set a new half-marathon PR. I've been lifting weights at the YMCA, watching tiny new muscles grow. I've been eating more protein. I'm not sure if these changes will lead to a new Big Thing, or if I'll simply enjoy feeling stronger in my body. I suspect not everything I do needs to be a Big Thing, that really I only need one thing at a time. All I have to do is figure out what it will be, and how big.