The weather is so lovely today it hurts. I feel torn between the impulse to go out and enjoy it, or stay in in order to utilize the inspiration weather like this always seems wrought with, or curl up with a cup of tea and simply watch it pass. And at the back of my mind is the dread of the inevitably sunny week ahead.
Today I had tea with Christine and Jennifer. It went south when the conversation turned to politics and I retreated to my dad’s office, where I read a chapter from a book by my grandmother. Later I made cookies with Jonathan. He said, “I’m that cookie—the cookie that bakes into the wall.” Which made me happy because metaphor does. So do cookies. So does Jon.
My cousin Jennifer has been coming over occasionally in the evenings to chat and otherwise. Whenever she shows up, I feel a bit like running to her and throwing my arms around her like the prodigal’s father, “Bring the fattened calf! Let’s feast and celebrate,” only it’s “Put the water on! We’re having tea.” (Since I don’t actually have servants to say this to, it’s usually Jenny who follows up on it… )
I went running with Andrew, Amanda and my cousin Josiah yesterday morning (at six, after not sleeping all night), and today I am sore—even though I definitely lagged behind the pack. Since we live at the base of a mountain, everything in Pasadena runs on a slope. People who get up at six in the morning are no exception to this rule.
The thing is, when you walk you go basically the same pace whether gravity is working for you or against you. When you’re running up a hill, though you work harder—everything goes slower. “Hills are speed work in disguise”—a nice mantra from my kinesiology class. Even when you’re going the slowest pace ever and it feels like the exact opposite—despite all appearances, you are in fact training to go faster. To run more efficiently. To be a better runner.
I feel like I’ve been writing uphill for weeks now. Working harder than ever, and getting nowhere.
And sometimes the writing life really seems like Pasadena—all one big hill. But lately I’ve been wondering if maybe that’s just part of the regimen, becoming a stronger writer. The hard days are training to go longer, further, faster. The challenges and the uphill days are not obstacles. They are spring boards. Speed work—in disguise.
And writing, like running, becomes easier as you keep at it. And when you come again to flat ground you find that you’re better than you were before the hills. And, what’s more, you’ve reached new planes in the process.