Last week I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic" and I've now been leafing through it, slowly.
For a while I couldn't understand: why is it that this book bums so much!? Everything she's saying in it, I KNOW IT ALREADY!!! (Meanwhile, people all around the internet are, like, man, have you read Gilbert's "Big Magic" yet? It's so awesome!)
Until it hit me: I know it already because I've heard it all already. From Liz. I've heard it all from Liz herself.
Internet is full of interviews and lectures Liz has given over the years - just have a look through Youtube, for one - and not to sound like a stalker but I've probably heard about 80% of them.
Okay, 95% - I wrote 80% just so I wouldn't sound like such a stalker, but it's probably more like 95% to be honest. I just love Liz so much.
Most of it I've probably heard from the background of simple daily activities like washing dishes, peeling carrots and sorting through laundry. It's my way of making those tasks tolerable: I put on an interesting interview / lecture / podcast on the computer and it allows me to zone into interesting stories (yay!) and zone out of pairing socks, for example, which in itself can be such a disheartening, mundane task that I could've easily become to resent my husband just for the fact that he owns so many socks, if it weren't for Liz Gilbert and other fascinating people whose stories are readily available on the internet.
In fact, I've almost come to look forward to sorting laundry because it gives me this wonderful opportunity to listen to something cool and I'll take that, thanks.
Which reminds me: last week I went for a run.
If you know me, especially if you know me from school times, you might be a little surprised by this information here, because the thing is: I don't generally like running.
Or, to put it a little more precisely: I hate long distance running.
In middle school I trained in track and field, and for four beautiful years I was in such spectacular physical shape that it still kind of pains me to think about how good I was back then, compared to the sloth I am at the moment.
I was short and stocky, with big bulky thighs, and so I loved running - but I loved short distance running. As in, 100 m and 200 m (200 metres was my favorite!) - and 400 m was already the sort of a distance that I considered to be the death of me.
I loved short distance running. I loved the concentration that came with starting low, crouched over the starting blocks, and then shooting out of those blocks at the anticipation of the starting gun, sometimes quickly followed by the second shot to announce that someone had shot out too soon and the race is to be restarted again. I loved the fierce fight of bolting towards the finish line, puffing with those strong, shallow breaths that a 100 m sprint brings, and hearing the competitors do the same beside me. Unless I was visibly behind my competitors, I could never actually tell who was in front, and so I loved the fierce competition of going full-on all the way to the end because... you just never know.
I wasn't spectacular at it - I never made it even close to the finals at the Estonian championships. But man I loved that distance!
And then there was long distance running. [Bleugh! Insert the sound of vomiting.] It was something that every single training session started with, us going for a good 2 kilometre run to get the muscles nice and warm, and man! I hated doing it.
I did, because I knew I had to.
But man I hated it.
Occasionally I raced long distances, too, when our club went for those autumny hill-runs in the local woods and where I was, in my head and in my imagination, vomiting at the sight of having to go, and go, and go, and go. And go.
I just didn't have the patience. Didn't even want to have patience. Patience was so... boring. Patience was the stuff that "those other kids" that ran 800 m and 1500 m and 3000 m had; the other people's charity cases.
But now, last week, I suddenly felt an urge to go for a run. At first I ignored it, thinking it must be some spectacular hormonal fluke, for why else would I want to subject myself to such horrors, but after feeling it for a few days I picked up my running shoes, dressed in my sporting gear, picked up The Dog's collar and together with The Dog, we went for it.
And wow it was weird.
At first I ran down the street and it felt good. I then ran down the street that connects to our home street, and it still felt good. I circled the reserve and it felt good. Even on the way back it felt good.
I considered just keeping on going, kind of like Forrest Gump, but I was also smart enough to tell myself that, look, Maria, just keep it easy for the moment. It's the first time I've been running like that in years.
So I went home, and eagerly awaited the pain in my muscles the next few days, but the pain... didn't come. There was the general soreness that comes with exercise, the kind when I've pushed well at the circuit training in my local gym, but there wasn't anything horrific that I'd been afraid of and I discovered with delight that I am not in as bad of a shape as I've thought I am.
So a few days later I went for another run. Again, with The Dog, we ran out the neighborhood, circled the reserve, then went for a de-tour through the hill suburbs and still it felt good. It was a comfortable pace, me going through my well-rehearsed breathing pattern of in-in-out, in-in-out, in-in-out that I've had all the way from those track and field days, and The Dog placidly trotting alongside me.
And in addition to that, I'd brought my iPod with me. I was jogging along, breathing at my running pattern of in-in-out, and listening to interviews and podcasts through my headphones. I learned from Kim Hill's interview with Philip Hoare that the name of a porpoise comes, literally, from the word "porkfish" which was a religious trick of classifying this beautiful mammal as a fish, so as to get around the church's restriction on eating meat on a Friday.
I also listened to an old interview with Masha Gessen who is a fascinating journalist from Russia, and so it came to be that as I was running I almost... fazed out of running. I was just breathing, in-in-out, in-in-out, and listening to stories.
And that's the way I've been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk to various interviewers, and the reason why I've already heard her say all that she's written in her book, Big Magic.
I think there will be more running. It was too enjoyable to not do it again.
PS. I love the rainy days' light!
And PPS. Just because.