Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Developing the Practice

As I was running today, I was thinking again about the book Mastery, that I've talked about before in here. We have been talking about this book a lot at work (it's going to frame what we do this year), looking at how it relates to the practice of teaching, or any other practice. 

I kept thinking today though, about what moves us from the "I'd like to do this" stage to the "this is my practice" stage. I have written in here about my mom, and her daily running. She didn't grow up running (or exercising) at all-- at some point, like tons of other non-exercising people, she had to make the decision to try it, and then at some later point, it became part of her life, a daily practice that was a given. My family also ate dinner together every night. It wasn't an organic, spontaneous kind of thing-- it was something that my parents made a conscious decision about and then worked hard to make sure it happened--but it also became part of what we did. At what point did it become part of what makes our family us, the same way being a runner is a big part of who I am? Even now, with both kids gone, my parents eat dinner and talk to each other every night over a glass (or two) of wine. Like exercising or eating healthy or anything else people want to incorporate in their lives, I'm sure it wasn't always easy to maintain. My brother and I did lots of different activities and both my parents worked full-time--but part of what makes their marriage successful (in my opinion, and I'm pretty sure they'd agree) is this daily ritual. 

So for the past couple of years, I've thought "I want to be more disciplined about writing. I want to write different articles. I want to write a book," but I don't write the way I run. I go through spurts the same way one of my friends goes through exercise spurts-- I'll write on a daily basis for a while, feel great about things and then slide the minute my new "schedule" gets jostled. Haruki Murakami said, about both becoming a novelist and
 running, that people do things because they suit them-- he became a runner and a novelist because those things suited him, as opposed to other choices. At some point though, running and writing became daily practices for him, and I am fascinated by where this moment is for each of us. I think writing does suit me (I'm not trying to be a painter, for example), but it's still not part of my daily practice the way running is. It just hasn't become something I do no matter what else is going on, the way I run and the way my family ate dinner together.

Ok. Enough of all that. I'm going to contemplate where to eat dinner tonight. 


Derek said...

I guess some things come really easy, while others take a deeper level of commitment to keep them going. Running has been this way for me, as I have been off and on the bandwagon for 20 years now. It really takes a deep drive to keep some things going. Good luck with your writing, I can tell you have the talent!

Anonymous said...

Have you considered writing a book about the trails in the bay area? You already have quite a lot of pictures, reports and descriptions.

It's not a novel, but who said you have to start with a novel?

GB said...

I think we may have been sisters in another life or something. Not a day goes by that I think I should be working on a book about something. I have so much to say, but don't know how to write it so it's exciting for others to read. Does that make sense?

Yea, I suppose if I wrote daily like I run daily, I'd eventually have something I could submit to a publisher somewhere. But right now, running seems easier than writing.

And FWIW, I'd read your writings!!! :)