Only Arrows and Races

by Jan 6, 2015

I’m a runner, but I wasn’t always. In fact, I made a New Year goal for 2013 to run a 5k. It wasn’t until the beginning of May that I remembered. The annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon was within a week so I signed up for the 5k run. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how fast I would be. My goal was simple though; finish the race. My time didn’t matter and I actually did better than my time on the treadmill two days prior. After the run, I thought “Dang that wasn’t too bad. I think I’ll do another! In fact, I’ll do one every weekend!” By the end of 2013, I had completed 19 5k runs. Not too shabby for a beginner.

The act of running a race is simple; there is a starting line and a finish line, go from the start to the finish in a (relatively) straight line, and recover with a bottle of water and a banana (there are always bananas). Running is a linear activity. There is a clear starting and ending point. After I ran a few more races, this became the only activity in my life that was so simplistic.

Being a creative is the furthest thing from a linear structure. Thoughts pop up for one project when you’re three hours deep into something unrelated. While working on a logo you get a better idea for that navigation problem for that other website. There is no magic formula to keep these thoughts filed away until you’re ready for them. They come as they please. The same issue happens when I run, but I have to keep running until I cross the finish line. I have to force those ideas and thoughts into a waiting room until I’m available to chat with them. Design projects have more twists and turns, do-overs, start-overs, and complete scratch-outs where it’s dumped for good. This can be very frustrating when all you want is to reach the finish.

There are many projects that never made it to the half way point and others that were completed but never used. Nothing is more maddening to me than a project that never reaches its own finish line. I want to produce the best work for every project and see it through completion. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my work out in the wild; being used for exactly what it was intended to do. It’s a visual sign of success. But obstacles come up, committees change minds/direction, the budget runs out, and things that are paid for are filed away and forgotten. So running became my mental release. I don’t just run for fun, I run to fulfill all those projects that never had their dues.

There is nothing linear in life; only arrows and races.