I like being passionate about things even when I’m not truly, demonstrably passionate about them. Let me explain. I am evangelical about the benefits of running, even though my friends on the Nike Run app can attest to the fact that I do not run all that much. A tidy four kilometers twice a week and then months of zero running followed by a fortnight of prodigious effort.
I run the same route — to London’s Victoria Park, past the big roundabout that funnels people in a biblical fashion to either a fish and chips or wine shop. Then I run the perimeter of the park, never entering it because I prefer to run at night.
I mostly listen to the same songs by the same artists – Skepta, Dance System, and Doja Cat. I run home, the exact same way, only backwards. Once I get to my door, I have to run a little extra past the Burberry shop sign to make it a full four kilometers.
My light dabbling with running is enough to make me feel sweaty and smug. It pleases my Apple Watch - the rings close with the same fervor I expect Gollum felt towards his beloved ring.
Why am I so passionate when it comes to the idea of running? I have absolutely zero ambitions of running a marathon. My approach is like reading the SparkNotes for a book you’ll be tested on during first-year English. You get the gist, you understand the essence, but you haven’t fully ‘mastered’ it.
I have this same sort of detached passion for a bunch of things:
Skincare (don’t make me read anything that looks like it was compiled by a biochemist)
Films (I have an encyclopedic knowledge of character actors, but I haven’t watched Citizen Kane)
Cooking (I trained as a chef, but worked for only three months in a kitchen before swearing it off).
I sometimes wonder if this is a personality quirk or a discipline deficiency. Am I waiting to be granted permission to be great? Or is everything hard a hard pass for me?
Recently, I started working with a life coach, Tomas, who has what he terms “The Quitting Point” and “The Climb”, both of which perfectly match my aforementioned affliction. Or, to put it another way, the shiny thing stops being shiny when the going gets tough, aka “The Quitting Point” and “The Climb” is the unsexy push required to accomplish anything with real depth, or in this case, kilometers.
While having casual and broad interests is fun and makes for great dinner party conversations, I want to abandon my status as a lifelong dabbler when it comes to the things I claim to care about the most.
In fact, that’s why I’m writing this right now. I told Tomas I’d write for 30 minutes a day because I really do want to write and be good at it. I’ve tried sort-of-kind-of trying for long enough to know that I don’t want to do the four-kilometer version. Instead, I want to go the distance, go into myself, and focus on “writing” the verb, the doing, instead of waiting for someone to give me permission to be “writer” the noun, the title.
As it so happens, I’m also running again, and last night I clocked a personal best. I hope that’s a sign of things to come.