Tuesday, November 27, 2018
On Thanksgiving, I took the day off. I orchestrated an exception to the rule. And was well aware of it. Somewhere around my second dinner, while a plate of turkey passed me and I was eyeing the rosemary bread, it occurred to me that a surplus of words was stockpiling in my head. There was a cramp forming.
A great deal of my nervous energy is streamlined into words. Most of the time it's dispersed with old-school ink slinging. I fill notebook after notebook with as many words as I can manage. I view each page as a picture as much as it is a work of words. It's a composition in form. And, as I get better, the sketchings start to be built on firmer architecture.
The practice of writing is often neglected in favor of the writing produced from the practice. You see, the practice often involves terrible writing, and this can still be good practice. Shit writing must be exorcized and exercised out of the mind and thus it is actually part of great practice.
An important book that has helped me understand the practice of writing is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. The audiobook edition I've linked to is narrated with additional commentary from the author. She is delightful. Thoughtful. And, being older than when she wrote the book, is able to give wisdom into the processes of maturation. The publisher, Sounds True, has long been a favorite source of mine for recordings on mindfulness and meditation. It shouldn't be surprising that they brought this great practitioner of mindful writing to my attention.
Most of my writing practice yields little but successions of words generally outlining long tangents of discursive thoughts. Procrastination from paid writing will lead to elaborate forays into imagination, experiment, memory or just random permutations of interesting-sounding words.
But sometimes I strive to keep my focus upon a topic long enough, with enough information and detail hammered into the copy, that there is something useful encoded that might be useful to other readers. I hope to direct these writings to this blog which has laid dormant for some years now. I'm going to leave the old blogs up because they are there. They are what they are.
But after slinging ink for the last few years, my chops are honed enough to work directly into the digital -- straight into the blogger interface. May my word counts here accumulate into an interconnected database of subjects, characters, settings, and scenes.
My suggestion for anyone is to dive into the practice of writing today. Make a blogger account. Let me know. I'll subscribe and watch your progress.
Or get a notepad.
It doesn't matter. Just write. Word after word sling the ink. It's the practice that counts.
A musician spends years behind closed doors working towards that ability to play when it counts. Fill your notebook. Play all the notes. Write all the words.
Then, one day, you sit down and have a great performance.
And it's a first draft...
Friday, August 22, 2014
Now, in Kailua, I was sitting on a beach blanketed in warm surf and moonlight. The palm trees shrouded my seat upon their root systems; the sand at my feet a welcome alternative to the dry, dusty ice and snow I habitually tracked in upon my icey wood floor. There was warmth in every breeze here, a seasonless consistency rocking you in its womb. There was everything that I had conceived as being a constituent of a tropical paradise, the everyday acts of existence were studies of the book of Genesis; never in my wanderings there, was I far from gardens. Yet it was here that my mind escaped towards the mountains, seeking new investigations and journeys back in a barren place, where I could only sustain outdoor efforts for less than an hour. It was one thing to romanticize about Vermont as a New Jersey hipster, it was another thing to long for it after finding myself on the easiest of terms in Hawaii. But I know that it was the uneasiness of life’s harsh context in the mountains that drew me there . It was the land’s ability to push me, rather than simply sustain me, that beckoned.
Returning from where I had just fled would be to resume a challenge, and to stay there for years would test my resolve. But I was unexplored, I felt, and Vermont was one of the few places that I had found on this planet that illuminated a pathway within my own understandings of myself. When the horizon is without movement, one can read clearly within, and the comprehension of what was inside of me, or, more meaningfully, what was not within me, was the gift that would render every insufferable moment meaningful, and keep me from the realms of needless masochism.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Purple light silhouettes barren and stark ridgelines. With the sunrise, a ribbon of pigment illuminates the horizon and delineates an otherwise colorless and hostile landscape of pine, granite, and ice.
The texture of the countryside is triangular; one always feels off balance, as if standing on a hillside, one foot lower than the other. One feels that there are nearby mountain peaks, there is a valley floor, and there is the angled land between- and that is all. One intuitively feels the water table, the governance of gravity unto that which yields, pulling you with it.
19th century humorists attributed the invention of the one legged milking stool to Pittsfield- the terrain being too continuously sloped for anything else.
But the land is tamed. Animals graze on the many cleared mountainsides, gridded with fences: some made of wood, some wire, some stone. Most of the stone walls are deep in the woods, remnants of 17th and 18th century farms that are now covered in a second, third, or fourth growth of trees.
Columns of smoke rise from isolated homes tucked up in the hills the rise from both my sides.
At -5°F the atmosphere feels more vacuum than substance; your cough is as dry as your lips and you always feel thirsty.
A fresh, dry snow dusts Tweed River Drive, a dirt road now cemented with snow and ice, but enough gravel and sand, to be drivable. Drivable, if you have four wheel drive. Best to have a Jeep or a Land Rover.
I don’t have either, so I just run. I’ve got another 1200 feet of climbing till I’ll reach the stone cabin at summit, where I can try and thaw out a bit before turning myself back to the West, running the 3 miles back to the valley floor, and running up the opposing hillside back to my home.
There could be worse ways to start a day.
There can be better. Like staying warm in bed. That’s what the rest of the world chooses to do. It must be the case since I’m labeled as the crazy one.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Bad Body Math - The Why and the How of a Food Journal
by Jason Jaksetic
What goes up comes down for the most part - but what goes on doesn't necessarily come off.
The purpose of this blog is to show that poor calculation, or rather, the absence of calculation, is at the root of excessive body fat.
Being thin is a matter of addition and subtraction. It's not rocket science - yes, there are immeasurable variables all over the place in your life - it's what makes you unique and dynamic and so interestingly you - but all things considered, if you balance what goes in your body, with what what your body emits out, you derive a perfect figure.
Not rocket science, just thermodynamics.
Think of your body as a furnace. Or better yet, a star. Your body is a radiant point where matter ignites into energy.
(The whole Einstein-ian equation thing, remember?)
We can build bombs because we can unleash energy from matter.
Your body unleashes energy from food in the same way. The calorie is a unit of heat measurement.
You get fat because you are piling up fuel, but not burning it.
In fact, maybe you are so fueled up, you can't even get a spark going.
Herein, lies the problem. Here it my be beneficial to think about the First Law of Thermodynamics here. Matter is not created or destroyed. It just changes form.
Herein, lies the solution. You can transform the body fat into energy. You need to carry all the excess numbers on one side of equation to another. Actually, light them on fire!
If you want your body to drop energy bombs all over your surrounding landscape you might want to consider a food journal as part of the equation to balance your weight.
If you burn more calories than you consume your body will burn the fat weighing you down. Your body has to burn the fat - it won't let you die. Though you feel like your starving, your not. Your body is snacking away on the lard your carrying around 24/7 when you are not resupplying via your stomach.
Exercise accelerates this process by pumping up the burn, but you will probably notice that just observing what you eat will put the weight loss odds in your favor.
A food diary let's you see one side of body's equations. (We'll worry about the other side - the burn - in another article.)
The Food Journal - 3 tips to consider on getting it done right
- it's about awareness...
The first thing I find people notice when they even attempt to write down what they eat is that they are blown away with how they've never examined such the mundane, yet brilliantly enjoyable and complex behavior of eating.. Humans are so busy these days it seems eating as become an autonomous motion to accompany our other activities.
- don't stress...
You are doing your food journal wrong if it's a burden. Don't stress about descriptions and nutritional information of what you are eating. (Look at that later.) Just take quick notes throughout your day on a pad you keep handy or on a notepad app on your smartphone. Oh, there are 10,000 apps, too, but don't use these if the technology will stress you out. Just grab a napkin at breakfast and jot down what you eat, every time you eat.
- try it for a week...
You can learn a boatload of information with just one week of data. It usually is enough to make your bad habits obvious. Knowledge is the power to that allows you to shift the momentum of your habitual behaviors.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Monday, January 27, 2014
At a certain point all the voices turn to static, a hum of a machine engineered to lull one into the illusion that things are actually being said. Never before have the data streams of mankind been so densely saturated, and never before have they been so vacuous. The cacophonous static of pixels is just colorful enough, familiar enough, that it is not rendered by the brain as static, but as a narrative – a veil of illusion that leaves us feeling as if we belong to a community of sorts, and are thus equipped to properly respond to the stimulating static – usually, through digitized banking systems, by buying something with just a few clicks.
Ultimately, from CNN to your Facebook feed, there is one imperative - click here. Thus you're measured and weighed, your impulse tabulated and stored, so your next one can best be fabricated for you in the soundscape of a numbing, commercial static.
I'm not trying to hate. I'm trying to rationalize a sudden lack of enthusiasm that has left me feeling blessedly lonely online, that more often than not, leads me to venture out into the real world, to strike up a conversation or two.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Before a triathlon everyone is pissing themselves. (Everyone's standing in, or floating in the water, mind you, or dashing off into the woods, but, yes, sometimes on the bike, too...anyway). It’s one of the most liberating moments in a triathlete’s life I think – the moment you just let it ride because you feel, you understand on a bodily level, that it will only weigh you down - your body is engaging with full flight mode and there are much more serious effin' issues at hand. THAT is fear. You’ve peed 12 times that morning already! But, 30 seconds before the gun goes off, you’ve got to go again. The liberation felt here is not from breaking any social taboo, but the understanding of an animalistic reality, that, because of circumstances being nonconventional, can be experienced by your everyday 9 to 5er in a socially acceptable manner.
THAT is animal fear. And that is why I love racing.