18 July 2015

On Running, Writing, Smoking

Last night, I put on my Smile-Sweat-Repeat running T-shirt on, my black running leggings, ankle socks, and my Saucony running shoes. I put on “khulud’s summer running 2015” playlist on Soundcloud, and start the Runkeeper application. I got the seed on an idea in my mind to mull over while running. It’s about what I want to write for today in my documentation project, i.e. this very piece. The idea is to write about de-cluttering my physical space as part of the process of making spaces for new writing. (i.e. what happened after my two-week long couch-potatoing, if you’re following up.)

But that piece will have to wait to be written on another day, because my run took a different turn. For me, running and writing have many elements in common. I can sit down at my computer, or with my notebook, with an idea I want to write about, but end up writing something completely different, like just now. Setting out to write a piece on making spaces, ending up writing about running and writing. But there’s a jumble in my mind as I type these words. Because I want to write all about running and what it does to my writing – I want to write it all at one go. At the same time, I don’t want to write all about it in one go. Because running does so many different things to my body, mind, and soul.

But I also want to write about the cacti plants that have been waiting, patiently, for me to plant them. And the fact that yesterday I was supposed to do that, but didn’t feel like it. But then I looked at the cacti and saw that they are ready to be planted, and thought to myself ‘tomorrow is another day.’ Another day on this journey. I try to keep my schedule as free as possible, and tomorrow I have nothing whatsoever that I have to do. So I might as well plant the cacti. Maybe. We’ll see if I feel like it.

And then, while out on my run, I see three potted plants sitting on a low wall behind a garbage bin, clearly discarded. I run past them, already knowing that as soon as I come home I will go back out with Pascal (our dog) and a bag to pick up those dying plants. And that’s exactly what I did. A sign to that the time has come to plant the cacti? Coincidence? The world has its mysterious ways to tell us things.

But back to running. For me, running is meditation. I don’t claim to be a runner, but I run. I smoke almost two packs of cigarettes a day and I run (no, I’m not crazy. Yes, you can run and smoke. They’re not exclusive activities). Part of this journey I am on, as I mentioned in the first piece, is to make spaces for writing. And part of that includes running. Because running, for me, is an essential part of my writing (I’ll come back to this point in later pieces). And if I want to run, I need to quit smoking. My partner, N., says it’s all in the head. He’s right. Two steps are needed to quit smoking, and only two. It’s that simple. And that difficult.

(1) Make a firm decision
(2) Implement the decision

There’s nothing more to it, actually. It’s similar to the decision I made to take an unpaid leave. Make the decision: I made it two and a half years ago. I played around with the idea in my mind for over two years before I implemented it. And so with smoking. I made the decision, but it hasn’t been firm. I’m still playing around with the idea in my mind. But this is how decisions are made. First comes the idea, you play with it, mull over it, digest it. It grows on you, and you begin to imagine how it would be and feel if you actually did it. It continues to grow somewhere inside your body, but most of the time you’re not aware of its growth. Until, one day, its size can no longer be contained by you. It explodes. And that’s the precise moment when you cross over. Once you do, it is released from your body in a gush. And that’s it. You’re committed to it. Now there’s no turning back. So I’m waiting this out. I guess the idea of quitting smoking hasn’t reached yet that critical size, but I know it’s a process, and I’m waiting it out, running it out, writing it out.

***

Progress with “The Lynch” short story for today: yesterday, I wrote the 4 single-spaced pages (1,500 words), but like I said, not the best writing. Because I can’t wait for the Muse. So I write without it. I’m going now to finish the story, there’s only one scene left, the last one, and then I’ll have a complete first draft. Yes, I already know it’s going to be a crappy draft, but at least I got the story on paper. I have a mass of writing that I can now play with – edit, rewrite, revise, tighten up.

In between, I’m going to plant those cacti and the dying plants I found last night.

Until next time.


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