Catch Me If You Can
Posted By: Ali Anderson
I don’t run. Not ever. Not unless there are free cupcakes, a Robert Downey, Jr. sighting or mountain lions involved. I tried running once though. In the 7th grade. They called it track, which I think is supposed to make running sound all interesting and cool, but all I got were shin splints and that annoying and medically unexplainable stitch in my side, so I figured running was a dumb idea. Plus, I stink at it. And I look like a giraffe trying to do the Macarena when I run. These are the things I thought about this week as I was huffing and puffing my way along a quiet, hilly road for the first time in twenty-some years.
I have no idea how far I’ve been running, how many calories I’ve burned or how badly I’m probably screwing up knees. Oddly enough, I don’t really even care. I did it because I had gotten into such a deficit of alone-time with myself the past three weeks that the only way out of it was to literally run from it. Maybe I was no good at running…er, track in the 7th grade because I didn’t have anything to run from. Now, and I mean this in the best way possible, I finally do.
Julia Cameron gets it. Man, I hate it when she’s right. I really do because it means I have fewer reasons to doubt the unconventional concepts of The Artist’s Way. It’s like I’ve been heckling the performer from the back of the room and she finally shined a spotlight on me, exposing me for the whole room to see right there on page 98:
“We strive to be good, to be nice, to be helpful, to be unselfish. We want to be generous, of service, of the world. But what we really want is to be left alone.”
At first glance, it sounds depressing or selfish. But really, regardless if you’re an artist or not, withdrawal is necessary, even vital. Without time to recharge your batteries, you become depleted, then tired, angry and finally – straight up ugly. I tried to cheat myself on the renewal of solitude the past few weeks and it didn’t go so well; I was impatient with my kids and my photographs were horrible and joyless. I was just floating along aimlessly.
I’m not talking about folding the laundry alone while the kids are playing outside. Or surfing the web after everyone is finally in bed, but you’re so tired you can’t remember your own name. Alone time isn’t closing your office door at work so you can play online Scrabble either. And don’t even think it counts as alone to time to run errands for everyone else without the kids in tow. Only you know what will recharge you and how much time you’ll need, but if you’re an artist, a parent, a human – consider it non-negotiable. It’s like denying your best friend the opportunity to play fetch.
Right now, my alone time is spent clearing out my head with each step I run. It feels good and I won’t do it forever, but It brings me back to center. And imagining that Robert Downey, Jr. is waiting at the finish line doesn’t hurt either.