On October 7, I set out for the Harpoon Octoberfest race in Windsor, VT with a carload of friends (Julie, Mike, and Rick). The brewery hosted over 1100 runners. Given Harpoon’s enthusiasm for costumed running, and the opportunity to get ridiculous, I costumed up as a beer loving Oktoberfest gal. We had a pre-race braiding tutorial in the parking lot, which helped banish the pre-race jitters. I placed 21st out of 90 women in my age group and ran the 3.6 miles at an 8:31 pace. Given the punishing course—up, up, up–I feel just fine about the time. I’m not sure if it was the brutal course or the fact that I downed a grape Vitaminwater right before the race, but after crossing the finish line, I had to run to the fence to wretch. I’ve since learned that it’s best to stick close to the routine established before race day (no fruity beverages). Mid-race, I also realized that I would have to attend to the ache in my hip, but that’s a tale for another day, at which point I hope to gather some advice: to run or not to run with hip pain. In the meantime, major festivities ensued post-race, and I discovered Harpoon Rye IPA–delicious!
Why Do What Lights You Up?
There’s a great little book, Letters to a Young Artist (inspired by Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet), published by the now defunct journal, Art on Paper. The book consists of 23 letters written by mature artists in response to a fictional letter from a struggling young artist. This afternoon, I was quoting the book in a letter to one of my students, when I realized that my thoughts on her work are relevant here. The final letter, from Joseph Grigely, ends with the following paragraph, echoing my thoughts about casting about for meaning rather than following a trajectory that is institutionally mapped out:
So my advice, for whatever it’s worth, is not to worry too much about those uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts. If making art is hard work—and it is—equally hard is the process of being an artist, of bringing the work to a public. This is where human relations are so important. A lot of the stuff I learned about art and being an artist did not come from visual artists; it came from writers like Keats (in his letters) and composers like Ned Rorem (in his diaries) and outdoorsmen like Ray Bergman (who wrote about fly fishing for trout). So read as much as you can and get into the thick of life whenever you can—learn a foreign language, learn things about other people, go places and do things that have nothing to do with art—because it’s the stuff that has nothing to do with art that has everything to do with art. (92)
The artist, if you’re curious: Joseph Grigely