A few months ago I joined a gym for one reason: accountability.
I was tired of falling asleep—my day’s step count at a dismal low—and vowing to myself that I WOULD work out the next day. Only to discover that the next day was like the one before it—filled with good intentions, but not much of me pulling on my running shoes and hitting the trails.
I needed more than just guilt and flabby thigs to motivate me. I needed trainers and work-out partners and Official People Whose Job It Is To Make Me Sweat. I knew where to find all of those—the shiny, high-tech gym down the street from our house.
Lifetime Fitness has so many exercise machines, it looks like a space station for very buff athletes. There are also armies of trainers and recruitment coaches and marketing executives, all walking around the Club, sporting Lifetime dri-fit polos and athletic shorts. I’ve been a member here before and been such a regular at pilates classes and yoga marathons that I had been on a first-name basis with all the employees.
But that was years ago, when I was trying to lose the baby weight, and I was very dutiful about showing up every day. There is something about wearing maternity clothes to your baby’s first birthday that makes you get yourself to the gym. The fitness fanatics were new employees I didn’t know. I did know that these trainers would be my silver bullet in getting back in shape. They would be accountability partners—just like before—following up with me when I didn’t come to class.
That’s not what happened. Since joining the gym in December, I’ve been about ten times. No one cares if I come or go. No one cares if I can’t wear half my jeans because they’re too tight. No one cares about my upper arm flab.
Correction: I care about all this. And my intentions-game is still strong to work-out every day. But, it turns out, those trainers can’t care about me if they don’t know me. And they don’t me because I never come. If they followed up with good intentions, they would be incredibly busy with all of America.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that these trainers would kind-of rather I didn’t work out. If all of us with good intentions showed up for exercise at the same time, it would be like a run on the bank. Their business model is based on the idea that most of us will chose Instagram-scrolling over downward dogs.
Which brings me to my point–even more important to me than toned calves is writing. I need the release of creating, imagining, and articulating so desperately. Like I need exhaling. Like I need prayer. (I once heard a fellow author say writing is peeing after drinking in all of life’s experiences. The metaphor is as crass as it is true).
I always feel that because my need to write is so powerful, it will just happen. Of course, I will find time to blog/journal/write books. It’s a core part of me. How in the world will I function if I’m not actively doing my favorite thing?
Badly, that’s the answer to that question. Because here’s the lesson I keep relearning, over and over: I write; I become too busy to write; I am grouchy and feel like I’m holding my breath; I remember to sit down and pound out a few sentences; I remember that writing is so hard because it is exhilarating and necessary.
The lesson I am just now learning is that no one really cares if I write. There is no proverbial doctor checking in to make sure I’m taking my medicine. No trainer calling me to see why I haven’t been elevating my heart rate. No nurturing teacher double-checking that I’ve done my sentences.
Perhaps this realization, that no one is going to issue me a personal, gilded invitation to do the most important work of my life, is the best motivator.
After all, this means the blame rests squarely on me, when I spend hours on the Anthro clearance page, rather than in front of my keyboard.
So, if this feels true to you, know this is your invitation. If you feel the urge to type, or the need to exercise, or do anything else hard and valuable, you should just do it. No one cares if you don’t.
And THAT is the best reason for why you should.