Whenever I’m getting cooped up and feeling laggy after a day of writing or househusbandry (that’s like housewifery, except without its own dictionary entry), I like to force myself out of the apartment and into the harsh light of day. I don’t want to, but I recognize the difference between wants and needs. Truthfully, it’s an uphill battle just to get myself out the door because I don’t like to stop. Not when I’m working (and I’m always working). I push myself without ever feeling like it’s enough, because if it was, I’d be rich and famous. It’s not whether I can or can’t take it. It’s that I want to take it and more. Blame it on the endless hours spent watching DBZ, but the need to push myself to get stronger and reach greater heights is constantly on my mind. And though I have no ten times gravity chamber, I do own a pair of running shoes. Sometimes, the best way to force myself to back off is by doing more in the form of a workout.

Yesterday was such a day. I finished my lunch, changed into my running gear, forewent the headphones in the hopes of reconnecting with the cacophony of sound that is New York City, warmed up with a nice walk, and broke into a jog, when –

I cringed in pain and the entire thing came to a halt.

I forgot to mention that lunch was a huge burger with blue cheese, a packet of cheddar goldfish, and three large glasses of water (water-flavored… but I backwash, so also blue cheese and cheddar). Between my overextended gut bouncing up and down so hard it threatened to slap me in the face, and the knife-like stabbing of cramps, there was no way to maintain the sort of speed necessary to complete a jog. I had to stop. It just hurt too much to continue. I considered heading home, the thought of Overwatch on the couch much more inviting than the pain and punishing humidity.

But instead, I kept going. Slowly, but onwards. It was more important that I continued on my running path, regardless of my pace. And any time the thought of video games or hiding back in my dark cave resurfaced, I tried running again, as if to punish myself for daring to think such weak thoughts.

I think it’s important to finish what you start, no matter how painful it is. Honestly, pain is a good motivator, though I’d never recommend the physical variety, especially against others. It’s more to remind yourself how bad you can feel. How much you need to push through, by whatever means, even when it hurts. Especially when it’s hard. You have to finish. You can’t stop. Never stop.

I have often considered quitting writing, as many writers have tried to convince themselves they are capable of doing. By shifting their focus to a field they have no interest in, or putting their writing prowess towards something they don’t believe in because it pays the bills. And I keep thinking, maybe this time. But without fail, I find something else to cling to, another blog post to write, another story to tell, another piece of my soul I want to bare in the most creative way I know how. And what starts as a slow shamble becomes a rush to the finish with pure abandon. No matter how unhealthy or how wrong the timing is, I bound forth, hungry for more.

Until the pain brings me back down to earth. The cramps set in, the task I’m attempting so much harder than I thought it could be. The desire to stop and give up can be overwhelming, especially seeing how long the course is, and the time it will take to traverse it. But to me, it just teaches you what your settings are. It took longer than I wanted, but I finished my running course. And the same goes for all the other projects I’ve begun.

Every project that has meant something to me, I have put my mind and spirit into finishing, no matter the extra work or the toll it takes. Because I can’t stop. I have to finish, no matter how slow I have to move or how long it takes.

Because once I finish, I can start the next one.