Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beyond the books: reading my city and the long runs; the blinking cursor and the old testament.

 on a San Diego Porch. also awaiting baby Reed's arrival. 
Some thoughts that have been swirling. They may or may not form a coherent thread of thought to anyone else but me, so maybe read each paragraph as a singular thought?

One of the best parts of my summer was sitting in a San Diego coffee shop with two of my best friends and letting our focus stray from the laptops in front of us.  Often we talk about stories that move us and inspire us--this particular trip seemed to focus on the beauty that is Friday Night Lights.  Conversation strayed and Sarah mentioned that she was currently loving unsatisfying things, and that she was feeling violent toward stories that portrayed a neatly packaged ending.  This was a hilarious comment, because Sarah appears to be cool and collected on the outside.  But those at the table know and love that she has a fiery spirit beneath the surface and a wisdom that spouts from it.  So, I wasn't surprised that those words have been sitting with me ever since.

On the way home, I wondered out loud why we didn't all live in San Diego.  It really is a city of summer in the day and fall at night--in other words, perfection.  Then Katy, a fellow winter-hater and  former New Yorker, began to to sing praises of coming-of-adult-age in the dark-at-five, hunched shoulders of New York City from January to March and the days when you miss every train and forget your umbrella for the wintry mix with an armful of groceries (and a laptop in your bag). Perfection is a maker of complacency.  There is no atmospheric struggle in San Diego--and that, she says, makes for a city without the raw passion and blunt emotions.  Obviously this is a metaphor.

I threw away my half-marathon training calendar yesterday and counted that I ran 200 miles to prepare for a 13 mile race.  And the race was amazing.  In my mind all summer I kept picturing it being a 13 mile physical and mental struggle--something to simply be endured in order to cross the finish line.  But the course was mostly running on a two lane road through the back streets of East Hampton, through woods and past fields and the bay.  The entire course was beautiful and reminded me of running at my favorite park in Ohio.  The running (with the exception of the last mile) was surprisingly enjoyable.  

And so I want to set off to face the writing on the wall.  Literally.  I made a visual of my writing project on the wall of my apartment to wrap my brain around it and also to motivate me to finish it.  I've found that when there is something I need to say in writing, I'm not settled until it has been typed.  I want to lean into the unsatisfaction, as Sarah would say and the struggle, as Katy would say.  I want to write in the moments when it would be easier to not.  I don't want to live in a season of complacency.  I want to remember that putting time into the struggle yields enjoyment.

And, also.  I want this to sink into my spiritual life.  A friend came and shared with my (Christian) small group last night about the significance of Rosh Hashanah and also talked about the tradition of Tashlikh, where people throw bread crumbs or stones into moving water as a symbolic casting off of sin and struggle and becoming renewed.  This is beautifully symbolic. The struggle is not forever.

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