The Long View
On Thursday, after 2 weeks off, I hit the Whiskeag Trail in Bath for a 25 minute run with Oliver (a very happy post-run Ollie is pictured above). My hip was stiff but the run felt great. On Saturday, I made the misstep of running 40 minutes on the road. My hip started aching a few miles in, and it’s been sore ever since. Looking ahead, I’m eager to do speed work and begin training for my first half marathon, but I know I can’t pick up the pace or distance too rapidly. I’m taking the long view–or trying to. The plan: run easy; work out the kinks with the foam roller and tennis ball; and cross train several days a week. The long view: take it easy now and enjoy fantastic future adventures and years of growth as a runner.
I’m Making Art Right Now
Several years ago, the artist, writer, and AIDS activist, Gregg Bordowitz gave a lecture at the Maine College of Art in conjunction with the publication of his book, The Aids Crisis is Ridiculous. I knew Gregg from my time as an MFA student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I was eager to reconnect and hear his thoughts. One of the subjects of the evening was the busy nature of Gregg’s life and practice. During the post-talk QnA, someone in the room expressed judgment about what he saw as Gregg’s missing commitment to “actual studio practice.” Gregg responded, “I’m making art right now.” This response has stayed with me over the years. Most artists and writers feel they never have enough PURE studio time. Gregg’s view was that in the midst of a lecture circuit, he was fully engaged in his creative practice. This resonates for me. I often speak about “the studio in my head,” which, when I’m busy and tuned in, I’m drawing, painting, and problem solving even as I’m giving lectures, running, or chopping vegetables. Sometimes it would be just plain slippery to claim that I’m Making Art Right Now; sometimes there’s just too much mental clutter, but I know that when I’m engaged and present, I am producing ideas and images–my creative work is underway. In a wonderful moment of congruity, an artist friend gave me a copy of “The Art of Being Still,” by Silas House (NY Times, 12-2-12). The author describes himself as someone who is “nearly always in motion,” which I can relate to. House goes on to say that,
…those who know me best realize that I am being still even in my most active moments. This is because I’m not talking about the kind of stillness that involves locking yourself in a room with a laptop, while you wait for the words to come. We writers must learn how to become still in our heads, to achieve the sort of stillness that allows our senses to become heightened. The wonderful non-fiction writer Joyce Dyer refers to this as seeing like an animal. (9)
As I think about stillness in action, and “seeing like an animal,” it occurs to me that I am most still when I am running, which is probably why running almost always fires up my art brain.