Taking a sabbatical was a tough decision. It took me a long while to make the decision. This past weekend I was at a fundraiser on a track in Sommerville. It was one of those red spongy tracks that only the colleges and richer communities had when I was in high school. Our track was like cement.
Even if you wore spikes, you couldn't really dig in to the track and get the good push you needed to achieve your best times. It had its limitations.
I ran and walked for about an hour as a part of the fundraiser, but at one point, the jumping pits called to me. I had to jump. I brought my daughter out and showed her the long jump. She had remarkable running form and was used to jumping and timing her steps from gymnastics. She jumped as far as I did without even lifting her legs. I showed her the stages of the triple jump. I ran and jumped as hard and far as I could. I did it again, and again, wanting to force my legs to take on their old speed and strength through sheer will. I felt old.
It dawned on me that I haven't been following my grandfather's advice at all. I haven't been running my best race, or even my own race for that matter. I haven't been running at all. I haven't had time to run, or jump, or play in a really long time. I have been holding on to the premise that if I just keep working, I will eventually get to a finish line.
I don't want to get to a finish line. I want to keep running.
I preferred a more well rounded approach to track and field. I tried the javelin when I had a torn hamstring. I hurdled. I long jumped, triple jumped and high jumped. I sprinted. I ran cross country. I ran in relays. Some things I did better than others, but I tried everything I could. And I pushed myself as hard as I could to be as good as I could at everything I tried.
The wonderful thing about trying out all of the different events was that I could appreciate my teammate's accomplishments. I knew that a 36' throw in the shot put was something to celebrate. I knew that a five foot high jump was pretty top notch. I knew that a 60 second quarter mile meant state competitions were in the runner's future.
I knew as much as I could about stretching, strengthening, visualization techniques, pushing through a wall, finishing techniques, hand off techniques, cold starts, block starts, loose face, loose hands, but not too loose, use your arms, lift your knees, lean on the bends, bend at the hips, look forward, etc. I immersed myself in the sport and decided I was going to be good. So I was good. Not Olympics good by any stretch of the imagination, but I was good.
Running a brick and mortar out here in an isolated area physically limits the amount of immersion I can achieve in my current field. I have learned as much as I can about managing TLGUTS's current space and curating that space. I want to learn more. I want to reach a higher level of achievement for both myself, and my team... the artists I work with. I want to re-immerse myself in the art world and lift my chin and look forward and continue to be challenged to get better.
I want to run a new race, one in which I can achieve the highest level of proficiency possible. I want to try a few new events. I want to take the time to appreciate the achievements of my team mates. So that's what I am going to do. I am taking a sabbatical to gain more knowledge, to focus on my own race, i.e. my own art work and writing, and to get out and spend more time with my team mates.
I don't want my team to run on cement anymore. I want us all to run on the good stuff. I'm not going to stop running, I'll just be perfecting my technique.
Come run with me.