I'm a runner (when I'm not hobbling around on crutches, like I have been for the past month). I don't run to live longer, although that would be nice. I don't run because of any theoretical health benefits down the line, although I believe I'll get some health benefits out of it. I run because I feel better now, in the moment, when I run. I run because when I'm at my active best, every moment is inscribed with a new power and vitality that aren't available when I'm at my slovenly worst (and I know those times too).
I'm thinking about starting points and goals as I begin the impossible climb from writing for myself to trying to get a work published for the world to see. At first I was frustrated, almost demoralized by the task ahead. But then I realized I was slipping into that unhealthy way of thinking, a mercenary instrumentalism that views things as good only insofar as they lead to desirable ends. If a goal is all there is, why write at all if the goal is a distant and improbable one?
But the goal isn't the point (it's nice, but not the point). Wrangling thoughts onto a page is a better way for me to live now, in the moment. As John Dewey said:
Such happiness as life is capable of comes from the full participation of all our powers in the endeavor to wrest from each changing situations of experience its own full and unique meaning.
Obviously I'll become a famous author and the pages I write will be spread far and wide. That's a foregone conclusion (my goodness, I've started a blog; how could I possibly fail now!). Still, I'll choose Jim Fixx and run and write even if the running and the writing get me nowhere. Because nowhere is a fine place to be.