07 November 2013

Why I am Wary of Progress

Sometimes I get organized. I set new goals and make new habits and everything hums along. Then one day I fall off a cliff on the side of the mountain of good intention. This is one of those weeks. I don't feel badly about it. Sometimes you have to take a break from all the growth and make time for something else, like napping.

This reminds me that I am wary of progress. At first blush progress sounds great, right? I want to make progress as a runner. I want to be a better wife and mother. But you have to be careful with progress. Too much or too fast and bad things happen.

I looked up the definition of progress and found "forward or onward movement toward a destination." I think people sometimes forget that there is a destination; there is supposed to be an end to the progress. You can't sell more shit every year forever, or grow a population or a company indefinitely, right? I don't see how you can have endless progress without endless resources. Does anyone still think we have endless resources? When I hear the word progress in certain contexts, my heart breaks a little. Everyone says it's naive, undergraduate. I can't help it.

What's wrong with subsistence? The definition of subsistence is "the action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself at a minimum level." I bet it sounds crappy to most people. Who wants to live at "a minimum level?" In a way, I do. It's not that I don't want to be comfortable -- I'm already too comfortable in some ways -- but I can get with maintainance. There is an end to growth, which is natural. Babies or plants don't grow forever. And I hate to mention it, but everybody dies.

Wow that got really dismal. Sorry about that. This is why I should stick to talking about running!

Running is going well. After deciding to focus on 5ks for the rest of 2013, I feel much lighter and more, well, focused. Last week I did my first track workout since I moved to Seattle. 5x400, around 7:36 average pace. I loved being back on the track. I can't believe it's been over three months since the last time I did speedwork.

This morning I ran along Lake Washington Boulevard. Fall in Seattle is gorgeous.

I'm still averaging about 20 miles a week, which is lower than I'd like, but a) I'm adding in some quality workouts but not adding mileage at the same time, and b) I'm not injured. After the stressful summer of life upheaval, I'm more cautious these days. I want to make progress in a sustainable way.

Okay, gotta go renew my subscription to Adbusters.


  1. I know what you mean about subsisting- it has this negative stigma that smacks of Westernized consumerism and one-upmanship that negates the idea of living simply. The idea of arriving at a goal and celebrating the stillness that comes once its been achieved has been overshadowed by our constant need to be more than we are at any given moment. Oh, btw- Thanks for the reminder that everyone dies! I have a blog entry about that very thing coming up! lol!

  2. Hi Steph! Glad to hear there's a new blog post coming from you. I think I'm going to make some t-shirts with some nice graphics that say "You are going to die."
    And I wonder why I am so unpopular...