On Dwelling in Possibility and Chasing Your Wall

You read on my homepage a bit about dwelling in Possibility and making the choice to “gather” your own “paradise,” as Dickinson says. Now, what’s your “wall,” and what does it have to do with Possibility?

The Wall: A point when a runner’s energy levels plummet, breathing becomes labored, and negative thoughts begin to flood in; this often happens at mile 20 of a marathon. Experts say that it usually happens two-thirds of the way through any race, no matter the distance.

In this case, “the wall” refers specifically to running, but of course this feeling of having hit your wall, whatever that may be, is applicable to a lot of things. With running, you want to prepare yourself so that you never reach this point, or so you can recover if and when you do. It’s about how you fuel yourself, and knowing when to push yourself and when to rest. For runners, this can be solved with hydration and stretching and taking nutrition on runs with you. It’s unfortunately not so simple with other things. If only I could drink a glass of water, do some sun salutations, and boom! I’ve written an award-winning poem. Certainly those things help (I’ve found a glass of water really can come quite close to solving almost any aliment), but, as it is with running, too, you have to put in the work.

It’s one thing to dwell in Possibility, but you have to actively engage it. “Dwell” is a rather passive verb; you just exist and so you are. This is my biggest struggle with the idea of dwelling in possibility. What good does an opportunity do if you don’t engage with it? This is where I connect the idea of Possibility and your wall.

Yes, fuel and stretching are important to being a good runner, just as reading is important to being a good writer, but those two things on their own aren’t going to get you very far without actually running and actually writing. I can’t read all the poetry in the world and stare at a blank screen with a cup of coffee in hand and expect Glück-level poems to magically appear. It takes work. You practice. You write shitty drafts. You can’t go on a couple two-mile runs and then magically run a sub-two hour half marathon. You can buy beautiful notebooks, pay for Scrivener, and get all the best running gear, but you won’t be breaching the point of lowercase possibility into uppercase Possibility—where you start to grow in your work and chase your wall—until you start putting in the actual work.

Let’s talk a little more about what it means to chase your wall. It can be easy to, out of fear, not do anything at all, knowing that “The Wall” looms somewhere in the distance. But your wall shouldn’t intimidate you; it should be what drives you forward. When you practice, when you put in the work, your wall adjusts accordingly. A year ago, before I started my marathon training, my wall was any distance over three miles. Now that I’m more practiced, and I’m intentional in my practice (“intentional” being the key word here), my breaking point—my wall—looks at lot different. Three miles is now a standard short run for me, and eight to ten is my happy place, where I engage with Possibility.

In Possibility, anything can happen—if I choose to chase it. It’s about making active decisions, being open to change, and not letting your fears stop you from trying to pursue the things you want.

This is a concept I want to apply more consciously to my life, not just with running. So each post you find here will relate to this—something I’m doing or have done in effort to chase my wall. And at times I may fail; I expect to. If my marathon training taught me anything, it’s that failing is inevitable, but failing a second time the same way doesn’t have to be. Do the work, and learn from what you do. As my favorite t-shirt (a senior class gift from my high school creative writing teachers) says: Work hard. Don’t be an idiot.

Me in my senior t-shirt with my best friend and the ultimate hustler, Julia.

Click here to read more specifically about my intentions for this space, and here to read more about my marathon training experience.

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