“Well, you run. You know. Running begets running,” she says.
I laugh: we’re talking about creativity. And how doing hard things gets easier … after you do them over and over again.
You just have to start. Which is always where I get stuck.
I laugh because, yes, I run. As in, I ran today. But, I did not run yesterday. I ran two days ago, but I did not run at all a month ago, or four months ago, and I’m pretty sure not even a year ago.
To consider myself a real runner, I have to run all the time. (And like it.)
I think of my brother. He’s the real runner. He’s the guy who tracks mileage on each pair of shoes and which training plan of speed and distance work is best for him. He has enough marathon swag to decorate our whole extended family and knows just what and how much to eat before a 20-miler. He’s the one out there in the snow/rain/wind, who knows my neighborhood just as well as I for how often he’s run it while visiting, he’s the one who’ll be back from his workout before breakfast so he can eat with the kids.
My brother is the one with the discipline, the one who sets a plan and sticks to it.
I, on the other hand, lack in the discipline department. I like to make plans. But stick to them? Not so much.
I lack intrinsic motivation. I do. It’s a shame, really. Doing something I find to be hard just isn’t fun. It’s … hard. And I try to avoid hard stuff. Unless. Unless I have a tangible (most often external) goal. Some of it is personality. A lot of it is fear.
We were talking about creativity. How, just like running makes it easier to run, when you actually write, it makes it easier to keep writing.
“Writing begets writing.”
Running, even when you’re in shape, have the time, and have motivation — it isn’t always easy.
And neither is writing.
The word beget comes from the Old English begietan which means to ‘get, obtain by effort.’ Coming from a churched background, I’ve heard this word beget in genealogies my whole life (I’m looking at you Matthew 1) and am well versed in its paternal procreative context.
A more modern definition (which is still not often used) is: to cause something to happen, to cause something to exist.
And I wonder if a more gender neutral (or even feminine) synonym for beget could be: create? But how do we keep the idea from the original definition that for something to happen or exist, takes effort?
Physical practice of any kind involves discipline, repetition, time. Strength of mind as well as body. And from my limited personal experience, I’ll say it’s true: I’m less scared to run a few miles tomorrow than I was a few weeks ago, when I laced my shoes up for the first time in ages. I’m less fearful of a 10 mile race than I was the first time I did it. And I’m confident my brother isn’t concerned about the physical possibility or mental capability of running a marathon after completing so many.
I’m less scared to post something on this blog when I’ve posted something recently.
There is so much fear when we desire to create, to cause something to exist, to beget something from ourselves into the world.
I came home from a run this weekend and Chris asked, “how was it?” He’s also a real runner. Maybe the truest of them all: he runs to run. All year round, no training for anything necessary. It’s a habit, an outlet for him.
“Great,” I answered.
“Are you being sarcastic?”
“No. I actually felt great.”
Everything kind of just … worked. Some of it was just mental: I can do this. Some of it was that it was just a good day.
If I had my way, I’d only write when inspiration hit, when an idea and connections and 1200 words and a four-hour chunk of time came to me all at once. But this never happens.
Writing, even when it’s hard, even when it’s for a small space in the world, begets, gives birth to, creates a desire, diminishes the fear, causes me to come back again next time and sooner, and more willing, and more able.
Running will produce (hopefully) a body strong enough to run for close to two hours without stopping. (#forwardsisapace says my friend Anna.) Writing (hopefully) will produce words put together in a way that both mean something and connect people.
Yet, if there is anything in my life that I really want to beget, that I want to cause to come into existence, that I want as evidence — from myself, from my writing, from my life — it’s a well-worn path from and also towards love and faith. It’s steps of obedience you can trace. It’s forward motion — in expectation. It’s a desire and willingness to be used. A revelation of Truth. A belief in God’s love for and work in me.
It may be hard. But because we do this today, it will be easier to do it again tomorrow.
What we beget may look like running. Like writing. Like starting a business. Like pursuing a pull on your heart. It may be volunteering or donating or cooking or working. It may be adopting or leading or visiting or giving.
Life, in the grand sense, begets life: life-giving words, art, pictures, beauty, love.
Truth begets truth.
We are creators who beget creations.
As a mother, my time and attention are pulled at constantly. Writing happens in spurts and sometimes it feels like I’m stealing it from someone (most often myself, in the form of sleep, as it’s happening while I finish this post). But writing has also been life-giving, purposeful, and, in a way, a gracious gift — to be able to pursue this passion inside of me alongside raising my kids.
Many of you follow Coffee+Crumbs, the group I write for. As of today, there is a creative community called Exhale you may want to check out. It’s a place where creativity and motherhood meet; “A place for mothers to catch their breath, and breath life into one another.”
If you’re desiring inspiration, confidence, connection, if you miss your creative self or feel scared or stuck or unsure to pursue, to beget, whatever’s on your heart, we’d love for you — check it out here.