“The pandemic is a marathon without a finish line.” In an article about what teleoanticipation (“teleo,” from the Greek, meaning end, goal, or purpose) can teach us about these COVID days, Alex Hutchinson writes:
It turns out that, if you ask yourself “Can I keep going?” rather than “Can I make it to the finish?” you’re far more likely to answer in the affirmative.
There’s a crazy marathon called Big Dog’s Outdoor Ultra, which is a four-mile loop that runners run until everyone else drops out. In a piece called, fittingly, “A Loop Eternal,” one of the champions, Guillaume Calmettes, said it was actually easier for him to run than a normal marathon:
“Because there is no predefined finish, you cannot think in terms of ‘how many miles do I have left before this thing is all over’, so in fact, I found it very easy mentally. I just had to think about the next loop. The next loop, always the next loop, it’s very easy thinking. You’re never overwhelmed by what you have left to run, because you simply don’t know what you have left to run.”
It’s a little spooky how much this squares with what I wrote in Keep Going about the creative life:
The creative life is not linear. It’s not a straight line from point A to point B. It’s more like a loop, or a spiral, in which you keep coming back to a new starting point after every project. No matter how successful you get, no matter what level of achievement you reach, you will never really “arrive.” Other than death, there is no finish line or retirement for the creative person.
Forget about the finish line. Do this loop. Then do another. Keep going.