Write Within Yourself

Many years ago I read an article about the American Middle distance runner Alan Webb, whose high school coach described him as having the ability to “run within himself.” This is a high complement for a runner, signifying that while training the athlete runs neither too fast nor too slow, having become so attuned to his own body that he can confidently and even comfortably push himself to the furthest edge of his stamina. Reading this, I thought, “That’s how I want to write.” Lately, I had begun to feel as if I was leaving myself while writing. I suppose I was headed off in search of what I should write about or, worse yet, some proof that what I was writing was “good.” This was a very uncomfortable way to write, and, the more I thought about it, an equally uncomfortable way to live. Yet there seemed to be no easy trick to keep my attention where it needed to be. My attention could wander as quickly as a thought, and soon there I’d be, not writing, only wandering, having already forgotten how I became so lost.

This column is not a guide, but a companion. A guide purports to know where you need to go. Only you can ever know that. A good companion, however, can remind you that not only aren’t you alone, but that forgetting where you want to go is not the same as not knowing where you want to go.

I hope these essays help remind you that you have always known where you want to go. It’s true, you know. But knowing something is not the same as acting on it. If you are like me, you can never be reminded often enough what it feels like to write and live within yourself. If you are like me, the temptation to leave yourself and chase some siren song of praise or run from the hounds of criticism remains. No matter. If my life has taught me anything it is that there is no such thing as too far from myself, nor such a thing as too close. The door to our hearts remains ever open to our attention, and once within it, we can travel as deeply as we wish, that well being the only channel through which life is ever known.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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