You may be wondering what cookies, chocolate milk, and the TC10K have to do with a blog professing to be for writers, artists, and theatregoers. In my defence, I.ve stuffed this blog into the all encompassing ‘Watercooler’ category (where a lot of the blogs seem to be heading these days which leads me to suspect I.m engaged in too many extra-curricular activities…). But there is a connection! Hear me out, gentle reader!
I.m not sure about you, but as a writer, I spend a lot of the time snacking. Cookies (Dad.s), nacho chips (plain with salsa or guacamole), cereal (Maple Crunch), and ice cream (especially blackjack cherry and vanilla combinations) are a particular weakness. I.ll either be writing, and hit a writer.s block. Or I.ll be thinking, and the solution won.t be forthcoming. Or I.ll be reading, and my mind is drifting off to la la land. Then I hear a small voice, ‘Maybe if you have some cookies, ice cream or [insert choice of snack here] it will help things along’. Well, who am I to argue against such good advice! And it IS good advice. Sometimes at least. There.s certain times of day–especially in the mid afternoon when the blood sugar hits that drowsy level–when a sugar bomb is a nice picker upper. At that time of day, the coffee option is already exhausted (from all the many cups earlier in the day…). The catch, is it seems like I.m reaching for snacks all day all the time!
Gentle readers will recall from the last blog was written all about the exciting and devastating Second Law of thermodynamics. Well, if there is a Second Law, there must be a First Law and this is what the First Law says:
The first law of thermodynamics is a version of the law of conservation of energy, adapted for thermodynamic systems. The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed. The first law is often formulated by stating that the change in the internal energy of a closed system is equal to the amount of heat supplied to the system, minus the amount of work done by the system on its surroundings. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.
From the point of view of the artist, that means that, to maintain an average body weight, input must equal output! Now, it certainly feels like when I.m thinking that I.m using prodigious amounts of brain energy. But, between you and me, maybe that bowl of decadent ice cream supplies more calories than the prodigious output of brainwaves burns! Now, multiply the ice cream by a couple of cookies, a bowl of cereal, and so on (this doesn.t even include the regular meals which are in addition) and we have a real problem in the weight department! This is where the running comes in. Not only do you get to burn calories. You get a chance to go into the great outdoors. Or, I should say, you get to venture outdoors. That was a weird sort of writing slip that tells me I.ve been sequestered too long. And you can make it social by running with friends or a group. To me, running (along with some basic weight training) is perfect for cookie consuming artists to achieve the coveted balance between input and output.
This morning, I ran the TC10k (the local rag, the Times Colonist sponsors the eponymous race) with my diligent running partner LH. Clocked in at 55:16 which was faster than last year. But not as fast as the 48 minute personal best. Or was the personal best 46 minutes? My memory seems to be telling me 46 minutes but my better judgment is saying 48. Funny how they disagree most of the time. I also like how the timing service breaks down the results. In the men.s 40-44 category, I was 157 of 305. That.s the best I could do this year. I was trying to keep up with two other runners, exchanging positions with them over the last kilometre until they gave it their final kick in the last 100m. I just couldn.t find the next gear and with my heart beating like a cannon, I had to watch them break away. Kelly Wiebe, the winner, came in at 29:08. Wow! in the men.s 40-44 category Jim Finlayson led the field at 31:36. Congratulations to them! And thank you to LH for all the fantastic training runs! The best thing about the run was the cookies and chocolate milk from the Thrifty Foods volunteers. They are the best! And of course, breakfast at Floyd.s. You know, you have to balance input with output!
Speaking of snacking brings me to the topic of concentration. Have you noticed that the most elite artists–besides being gifted–have a phenomenal power to concentrate their efforts for many hours at a time on a single problem? That.s fascinated me. No food, no drink, no distraction. Just a laser like focus. How do they do it? In part, it must be that they.re so drawn into their work that the outside world melts away. No, perhaps it.s more than that. It.s like they draw themselves into what they.re doing, whether it.s practising a musical passage, working on the solution to an equation, or mentally thinking through a paradox so that their consciousness becomes part of whatever it is they.re focussing on. And they would admit nothing that would disturb their concentration. Gould worked late at night in the Eaton.s auditorium or far away at his cottage on the Great Lakes. Einstein would regularly inform his wife that during the hours between this and that time he could not be disturbed. Steve Jobs had a wardrobe of twenty black mock turtleneck sweaters so as to save himself the distraction and brainpower of having to select what to wear. Which leads me to this point: maybe there.s mental techniques I could be practising to increase concentration?
That.s a question for another day. Now the rigor mortis of the TC10k seems to be setting in, how unfortunate. So, gentle reader, until next time I.ll be taking the day off from Doing Melpomene.s Work because, well, I deserve it! But in the meanwhile, enjoy the Dancing Heron from Richard Hunt who graces all the t-shirts! I like the crazy bird. It looks like someone has stolen his fish! Or perhaps another interpretation is possible?