I’ve always been drawn to art of any kind. From going to film festivals to enjoying street art, or myself painting with oil to be able to canvas our home with color, art allows a person to connect beyond the ordinary, beyond the daily, beyond the logical mind. It’s emotional, it’s fluid, it’s a way to bridge the present world outside of us with the aesthetic we can see inside of us.
“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”PABLO PICASSO
There’s a familiar saying, “create for creation’s sake.” I take this to mean that it is the process that you should find joy in. That part is worthy enough. Just creating can be magical, transformative, even if no one views it, no one likes it, no one shares it, no one “cares.”
I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately, and if the phrase translates to any other medium, especially physical activity. When I first started thinking about this, I took it as if I should more or less forget my goal (becoming an Ironman) and run just to run, etc.
Then I started wondering if running for running’s sake, or cycling for cycling’s sake, or anything else just for the sake of doing it because I love it makes sense. It does, of course. It has to.
But what I didn’t understand at first was that I was projecting what “joy” has to look like in this scenario. I find so much joy in putting my everything into a workout and having a focus that is so intense that you can feel it from the next room. I wouldn’t be doing any of my training if I didn’t first find value in it separate from my goals. I wouldn’t run if I hated to run (although there are times, especially when I’m not in shape and I have barriers to break through that I seem to hate it). I love being active. But it’s an interesting concept, because what personally gives me that “high” is when I push myself to the limit, when I give it my all and finish strong. For me, even when I am struggling during a training session, I am simultaneously enjoying it. It is worth it.
Do I think that if you are looser and laugh more, that you’re not going as hard? No, I don’t always believe that either. Do I think that you have to always go all out all the time No, of course not. Even within training, recovery runs are an immediate way to negate that. So what do I mean? Am I a just simply a masochist? 🙂
I asked my partner about this. I thought I was being a killjoy during a recent live streaming of one of her fave celebrity’s workout we had decided to do together from home. I was frustrated because it was scheduled to start at a certain time, and 15 minutes past that time, the two who were hosting the event on their webcams were still laughing, goofing off, making introductions, and trying to get their cameras to be positioned how they wanted. I’m over here thinking, “I could have been 2 miles into my run by now.” The seeming lack of “care” totally killed the excitement for me. I didn’t understand how drive and the disregard for that same drive could live in the same world. At the end of the 30(ish) minute session, while I felt like I did get a decent workout in, I also felt like I didn’t enjoy it.
I immediately apologized to my partner. I said that I was sorry for being a killjoy, and that it was hard for me to just let loose and not care, and that I wish I didn’t have to be so serious.
Her response: “You’re not a killjoy. You have to be serious. If you weren’t, you might not get to your goal, or you might get injured because you weren’t focused.”
I guess I never thought of it like that.
I guess that silly term “serious” is what I’ve been struggling over lately. All my life (especially as a woman), I’ve been told to smile more. To not be so serious. To relax. Let loose. Have fun. I don’t understand why the “have fun” has to be in one box or the other. Intensity is fun. You can be serious about something AND enjoy it. I do every day.
So I started to think that maybe, just maybe, it’s the expectations that need adjusted. Mine and maybe other people’s. Maybe certain things have certain places and times, and that is okay. Maybe relaxing is a good thing. Maybe sometimes it isn’t. I keep coming back to that simple little adage, “There’s a time and a place for everything.” Yes, I am hyper focused right now because I have this monster goal. My partner was right when she told me that I have to take that seriously, and I do. But it’s okay to move just for the sake of moving, outside of any goal, too. This is like art to me, and this similarity is what has always drawn me to sport: the emotion and passion connecting to something beyond us through movement. I can relax by connecting to nature on a hike. Or I can ride my bike just to get out and enjoy the fresh air outside of my regularly scheduled training sessions. These are the things I will continue to do, anyhow, after my Ironman is complete. Because the activity is worthy in itself.
And it is also okay to be intensely serious about the things that are important to us. Sometimes I need that reminder, too. Finding a balance between the two extremes is what I think keeps me sane as a person and as an athlete.
Get fired up! Can you relate to this? What do you do? Let me know in the comments below. I’ve found that a simple verbal reminder that “this is worthy” snaps my brain back from questioning myself to recognizing the value in the moment. Maybe try that (or find a mantra of your own) when you feel like you should be feeling emotions you aren’t feeling.