Monthly Archives: March 2019

On the road again

Looking down the author's body: windbreaker, loggings, running shoesTwo things that are true about habits:
– They’re easy to get into.
– Once you get out of them, they’re harder to get back into.

I don’t remember the last time I went running. It’s probably been years. Even longer since I did a 5K. I’ve had to chase my child around for sporadic intervals, but it’s not the same. The process of getting my act together and actually going running? That’s a habit I’ve been overdue of starting again.

I’ve always had an excuse. I can’t because this knee is sore. I can’t because my sinuses hurt. I can’t because it’s too cold. Or too warm. Or too wet. Or too dry. Or, well, pick a reason and I’ve probably used it.

It’s so easy to can’t ourselves out of things. Once we start down that path, we’re easily can’ted out of habits entirely. If they’re bad habits, this is a good thing. But if they’re positive habits, one can’t after another creates a whole mountain of can’ts that loom in front of us like a real, no longer metaphorical, object.

But today I decided I’d done enough can’ting. The sun was shining, the snow is mostly gone and spring seems to be (maybe/sorta/kinda) close at hand. I’ve seen so many other friends ramping up for road race seasons, preparing for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons and the like. It’s been encouragement — thank you all.

I’ve seen enough people who can to tell me it was time to can the can’ts.

My first run was nothing special. From my house to Shapiro Park, a quick walk around the outer half, then a run back home. All at an easy pace, even if it felt harder than it should.

Three things I know about getting back on the running game.

– It won’t look good. People might dream of looking like a sleek animal when they run. A gazelle. A cheetah. A fox. I look more like a fish that’s flopped out on the land and sprouted wiry limbs. But that’s OK. I’m not trying to impress anybody as much as I’m trying to knock down my own barriers.

– It won’t be easy. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Going home and sitting on the sofa is easy. Dressing in leggings and a windbreaker and sneakers, stretching, getting mentally prepared and then simply trusting an old, creaky body? Not easy. But getting a body in motion is the first step.

– It’s going to hurt. More muscles than I remember having in my legs are in pain right now. My breathing isn’t where it should be, so my lungs are burning. At some point, my back will chime in as well. They’ll feel better in a day or two.

Look, my running exploits aren’t going to impress anybody. I don’t expect any trophies in my future. This isn’t about medals, it’s about mettle. It’s about kicking the can’ts to the curb by knowing that I can.

One run down, and I just can’t wait to get on the road again.

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Spontaneity + the arts = a magical combination

The spontaneous creation of the arts is one of my favorite things in the world. From an improv comedy show to a musical jam session to street artists, the idea of creating and collaborating in the moment is an amazing thing. That’s why I was so impressed when it happened right in front of me at the Sterling Cidery on St. Patrick’s Day.

My kid and I were visiting Fair Haven, my adopted hometown away from home, and popped into the cidery, under new owners and with a permit for the day. People clearly miss the place and can’t wait for it to fully reopen, as it was packed before 2 p.m. A nice combo led by Larry Kyle played in the room just off of the main serving area. We sashayed into a back room (or “lounge,” as I like to call it) where Arius passed the time playing with Scrabble cards and inventing rules of a game involving plastic mice that none of us could figure out what the real rules might be.

Then things got interesting. A lone guitarist came into the back room to tune up. Then Bob, father/father-in-law of the cidery’s founding owners, came back with his guitar and the two started jamming. Then a third musician joined them, and soon enough you had singalongs and more and more people filling up chairs for this completely unplanned performance.

It was really cool although perhaps a bit less enjoyable if you’re a 6-year-old who was looking for some quiet while he made up rules for a game with plastic mice. So we bid our adieu, making more room for the increasing audience.

Three musicians play as other sit around

An spontaneous performance in an unplanned venue lasted several hours with a rotating cast of musicians.

I went back to the cidery that evening by myself and, to my surprise, musicians were still playing in the back room. And musicians were still performing in the original performance space. The new owners and I found it really cool that each room with its acoustic musicians and spontaneous set lists were distinct and not audible to each other, yet also very organic creating the scenes in front of their own audiences.

And that’s the magnificent thing about the arts: Performances and presentations aren’t set. Even the most seemingly structured are not: You can follow a band for 10 concerts in 10 different cities and you’ll see something different every time. Now take this formula with a revolving cast of musicians with no set list and very little forethought in what they’re playing. And then add a second unexpected performance space, where musicians rotate between their ad hoc bandmates, and what do you have?

Pure magic. You don’t need leprechauns or even St. Patrick’s day for that to happen, and it may well be better than any pot of gold.

Four musicians play

Larry (O’)Kyle performing in the main musical space of the Sterling Cidery with friends, before he went to play some more in the new backroom performance area.

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