Just recently, I was thinking about the climbing stage of the Green Mountain Stage Race — a four-day cycling event in Vermont. Over the course of a few hours this past summer, I saw a lot of tired cyclists (including my son Alex!) pedal their way up a steep — very steep! — pass. As they climbed up and made their way toward the finish, I noticed that the racers fell roughly into two groups. One group pushed forward toward the finish, finding a last spurt of speed from somewhere deep inside. And the second group seemed to relax and slow down a bit once the finish line was in sight.
Not surprisingly, it was the racers who gave that last push, the ones who found a bit of extra gas at the end, who placed the highest. In some cases, the slower riders were just barely behind them, but that last little kick made all the difference.
Why did some of the racers find something extra while others didn’t? I don’t really have the answer, but it’s a question worth asking because we face the same challenge with our writing. We’ve all reached a point where we just feel like easing up, coasting, even quitting. Sometimes even with the end of a project in sight, we lose energy or heart for some inexplicable reason. Maybe it’s fear of failure or success. I don’t know.
But here’s one thing I do know: we’re never really empty: we only think we’re empty and so we step off the gas ever so slightly and that’s why we falter. If can just dig a bit deeper, just trust that we have more gas in our tank, even though our mind-meter says it’s empty, then we can find that extra spurt of energy we need to get the job done. It’s there, just waiting for us to tap into it.
And here’s something else I’ve learned. When we push past the point where we want to stop, we often get a second wind. And more often than not, something wonderful emerges — a little gift from the universe for not giving up and giving in. Write on.