There are stories that we tell about ourselves that are so convincing they shape how we actually begin to see ourselves. To change my own narrative, I had to start calling myself a writer, even if I didn’t feel like one yet. Maybe I wasn’t there yet, but I could make it true. Writers write. I could bend the truth to me, through practice.

But I struggle, not to find the words, but to find my subject, my muse. I still call myself an Art Historian, even though I haven’t been employed as one in over a decade. I cannot let go of my training or the first ten years of my professional career. I have set in my mind firmly that I am a runner, beating the rhythm of it in with every step, even though I’ve had to take years off due to injuries. I mourn the lost time, dream of a complete recovery, and breathe deeply when the footfalls are even and the stride is easy. As long as I have the act of running fixed in my mind, then it is only time that passes through me until I can do it again.

Sometimes, when running and the path is even and clear, I can close my eyes briefly. It feels like flying — without my eyes to make contact with the ground, I am released from its gravity. It only lasts a few seconds, but the euphoria of it can sustain a long run. It is this sensation, this sensory memory of weightless bounding that I pull up when I see it in my mind’s eye. I know it because I do it, I have done it, I will do it.

Writing is the same. I do it in some form everyday, but I could be more deliberate. Like with running, I could benefit from training and following a plan. Let’s be honest though, I’m terrible at following running plans — they never work out for me, injuries have claimed me more times than naught when I let a chart determine my miles. I do much better when I set a long-term goal, then adjust the day’s run to fit whatever circumstances are thrown my way, calculating how to get the best run for that day, even if the miles don’t follow a plan. I rely on building up the miles slowly over time, aiming for the long game over the strict adherence to daily quotas. Maybe it is the same with writing? I will work to remember the pleasure of words flowing, feelings caught, and moments crystalized in the same way I feel the sun on my eyelids and dare myself to keep them closed for just another moment while my feet lift off the ground.

Writer, researcher, observer