No one has ever accused me of claiming a championship ring in the Super Bowl of time management. All the way back in December when I told my friend Sarah, otherwise known as Coach Cadwallader (see finish time for #169), that I wanted to run the San Francisco Marathon and also finish the first draft of my novel by August 21, 2010, she replied in a supportive fashion but with a hedging note in her tone.
The San Francisco Marathon is one of the hardest. There's the Avenue of the Giants. That's much flatter and also quite beautiful.
Nah. I live here. I'll just practice on the course.
Uh huh. Well, yeah, I think you can do it. But maybe both might be hard. The training takes a lot of time.
It's cool. I can do it.
Ok. Well yeah. Ok. I'll send you your first schedule of training.
I just assumed the dry catch in her reply was a symptom of her being British. But no. Turns out here we are down the road, and I have no time for anything. Nothing. I'm falling behind on my house stuff, my book only gets attention when time gets set aside and scheduled, I don't really leave the house past 8pm, even on weekends, and my Saturdays consist solely of going for a long long run and spending the rest of the day recovering and lounging. Maybe I can do some laundry or dishes. Maybe.
It's true I may have to modify my goals, which I'm open to, and hopefully if that happens I can manage to modify without some self-critical shitstorm for a soundtrack. I'm not sure why I thought training for a marathon and completing the first draft of a novel wouldn't cost me much, but I've found denial can often be a majestic tool serving as the gateway to great heights. Had someone really been able to convey to me the enormity of my undertakings, they may not have been undertook. But one thing that rings a resounding gorgeous bell this week is not how much things cost, but how much they are worth.
I had most of the day off Wednesday, save for a meeting with some colleagues I enjoy and respect and get paid to work with, and decided I would write in the morning and run in the evening. I normally run in the mornings and relegate writing to whenever a moment shows its face, which recently is round about never. The morning work went swimmingly well. Amazing really. Exhilarating. Sometimes writing is mysterious. It's like working on a collaborative process with someone, except it's yourself. I will leave the book for weeks on end, months sometimes, and at points in its life, I left it for a few years. When I return to it after stretches, it is clear to me that the thing has, like a child, gone through the stages of development where the story has almost gained a kind of sense of self. It realizes it is separate from me, its author.
I wonder what Lacan would say about this?
Heading back into the work is interesting. Sometimes I have an idea about what I want to happen, but like my parents, I'm quite sure, found out, sometimes the being wants what it wants and maybe I can't force it without breaking the thing. And so I write into the piece as openly as I can. And when the best thing happens: the piece tells me things. A sentence will tumble out that I had no idea was inside me. To the extent that it feels like it wasn't inside me, but is a product of a collaboration between me and the work that is being built, regardless of the fact that I built it. The work develops a prescience, a code of values for itself. On a good day, an amazing day, writing feels like I am merely transcribing a thing that already exists somewhere in a middle world. There is a voice that materializes and my fingers just clack away. Sometimes plot structure materializes, elements or events that have never occurred to me in any cognizant manner. It feels like spinning straw into gold. It is without a doubt, one of the most magical, rewarding, soaring feelings in life.
Running has never even approached this moment for me. Yet I keep on toward this goal, harvesting quite a bushel of other succulent fruits of labor. It is power blasting rust from my long oxidized self-esteem. It really does wonders for my skin. It is the most victorious kind of meditative work that's arrived for me yet, providing me with enormous swathes of serenity and beauty. It gives me much needed solitude in a packed world, leaving me with a sense of accomplishment in a salt moustache. But that sense of soaring, maybe, maybe in fleeting seconds.
Then Wednesday that all changed. By evening I was tired from everything. I wore the sausage outfit around under sweats all day, knowing I had too much time to convince myself not to do a run. A 6-8 mile distance was scheduled by the coach, all training at this point ramped up to the final few weeks, and I felt inwardly bratty about spending an hour and a half doing this. Ginger was making homemade pizza. The house was clean. Danny was coming over. Blah Blah Blah. The usual parade or reasons not to run.
But I left the house to visit my friend Gregory at the shop where he works. It's my favorite flower shop. He recently reminded me that peonies, my very favorite flower, were in high season and I had not come to be among them once this season. I thought between he and the flowers, I might feel inspired. I didn't, frankly. I wanted to just hang out. But he and his date convinced me I should get out there. It was getting late.
The first two miles, as usual, felt like crap. That never fails. Like when you put your jeans on in the morning and they feel weird. Takes a few minutes for the denim to adjust. Still wanting to give up, I gently talked myself into block after block until I saw an old pal across the street. She yelled like crazy at me, like a fan at a race, and I just felt everything come together. Her total buoyancy, my sweat, the self manufactured opiates, and bam. It was just like the writing. The world got more colorful. My body felt amazing, like it wasn't mine. My feel hurt, but I didn't care at all. San Francisco revealed all its glory to me, especially through the industrial stretch. Colors colliding, mist rolling in, turning to fog just as I hit the water. What a beautiful town. Sun setting. Throngs of folks out laughing. The run ran itself. I just showed up to meet it. I went seven miles and felt like a glorious animal. A lion licking big paws. And I came home to Danny in the kitchen, giving Ginger a super cute new haircut, my homemade pizza waiting with fresh basil hand cut all over the thing.
And all just in time for the crunch of the race.
It's almost here.