This is my mantra, and I’d like to share it with you.
The idea to write an article about these three essential words first came to me over a year ago, when I was living and studying in Seville, Spain. It was a time of great change in my life; I was taking my first tentative steps towards a writing career, and also my first big leaps at becoming the world traveler I envisioned. As it so often is, this period of change was marked by a rollercoaster of emotions, and I’d be lying if I said that my own feelings trended towards the positive.
I was living in lovely, sunny Seville, and yet, I was more than a little bummed out. My year abroad was not panning out as I had imagined; friends were harder to make, culture shock had hit me harder than I had expected, and a missed home a whole lot more than I was prepared. Coupled with some internal conflicts and struggles with self esteem, and I was far from ready to take on the challenges that come with living in a foreign country. Thousands of miles from home, school, family, friends—I was living in an incredible and beautiful city, yes, but mostly I felt unsatisfied and disappointed that my year abroad was not living up to my pre-departure expectations.
If you know me well, then you’ll know that the subject of study abroad is of particular interest to me. I firmly believe that there are a whole bunch of amazing benefits it can bring, but I also believe that there are many not-so-great aspects of study abroad as it exists today.
That’s okay! We don’t live in a perfect world, and I would hardly expect one of life’s great experiences to exist problem free. My personal take on study abroad is a topic for another day. Today, I want to talk about the magic formula I discovered for dealing with life’s curveballs and low points, a mantra to get you out of bed and outside loving today; even and especially when all you feel like doing is binging on Netflix for ten hours straight, and swimming in a vat of ice cream (or wine, or your indulgence of choice).
Read. Write. Run.
Every single day.
Every damn day.
Those three things can turn even the darkest days around. They will unfailing lift your spirits, brighten your mood, and allow you to escape even the shittiest of situations, if only for a little while.
I first found their simplicity to be a bit intimidating. Those three words crossed my mind on a day I felt especially like wallowing, and I remember starting at their brusqueness.
Read write run. It was not a quite a command, and not entirely a criticism.
Read write run. And it was easy. A beautifully, wonderfully easy idea, something I could do from any corner of the globe at any time of day.
Read write run. Perhaps that’s why it terrified me so much. Once I relented, accepted the challenge my own mind had laid before me, how could I ever stop? How could I forgive myself if I did?
Well, on that day long ago I reluctantly laced up my running shoes and went for a jog around the neighborhood. Later that evening, I typed out the rough skeleton of a blog post. It wasn’t great, but I saved it to revisit at a later date. And I read, before I fell asleep that night, a routine I had first adopted as a child but neglected as I grew older and my days grew busier.
The next day I repeated my mantra. I repeated my routine. The day after followed the same, and the day after and the day that followed. Then a day came and I didn’t write, or maybe I skipped a run or fell asleep before I could read my book.
Slipping up was disappointing, though it was something I knew would eventually happen. My mantra became more of a suggestion, and my efforts to read write run came as often as I could and then, as often as I liked. Somedays, I only made it to one or two of my magic challenges. Somedays, I didn’t make it to any. Even so, the idea floated in the back of my mind, a personal goal, a simple challenge, and I knew that a day would come that I could take this mantra and this time, really make it mine.
Fast forward a year and a couple thousand miles. I’ve returned to my college for my final semester. One year and so much has changed. The past few weeks in particular have been a rapid series of changes and happy events; small, serendipitous moments that have me feeling as though I am headed down the right path. My challenge has been echoing in my head again—except this time, I feel ready to fully accept it.
So, as I embrace this challenge, and seek to complete my three tasks each and every day, I invite you to join me.
Read. Something, anything, everyday. Read this blog, if you like it, or something else if you don’t. Reading calms the mind and opens it to new ideas and possibilities. It can allow us to escape from the world and stress at hand, and serves to broaden our minds to be receptive to the changes around us.
Write. Write a letter, a journal entry, a poem, a song, a chapter of a book. Share your words or keep them to yourself. Writing is expression, it is creativity, and it is a safe place for us to release the good and bad, the happy and sorrowful.
Run. Move. For five minutes or for an hour, there is no better stress reliever than physical activity. Do it because it feels good, because your body deserves it, because you can.
Read, write, run, and find the balance in your life.
Mess up, skip a day, and start again.
Humans are amazingly resilient creatures; we were made for the bumps and bruises that accompany any fall off the bandwagon. There is so much we can learn from our stumbles, and even more to be gained when we choose to get back up. Keep going.
Read. Write. Run.
And always, always choose to try again.
See this post on Elephant Journal