Hello. How are you doing this week?
Midway through my morning run yesterday I saw the words “storms don’t last forever” pasted up in someone’s window. Linking two cheerful rainbows, the phrase both sobered and uplifted me, burrowing into my brain just at the point I would usually be starting to bargain with myself:
“Walking is nice, you should walk”. “Yeah, but you’re doing intervals anyway, and you get to walk soon – look, it’s only another 20 seconds.” “Sure, but it’s an achievement to do any sort of run, it’s not about speed, is it? You’re not training for anything.” “Shut up, only 10 seconds til you get to walk for a whole minute, what’s the problem?” “Nothing – OH LOOK A RAINBOW”.
I’ve always preferred running outside because of the tangible feeling of progress. Putting one foot in front of the other propels you forward in real time, in the real world. You leave the house, go somewhere else, and then return. In a life made up of numerous ethereal projects where I conjure sounds from my imagination in a completely self-propelled bid to make something that I hope will be of use to a small group of people, spending time on anything with a measurable outcome is a relief.
I’m proud to say I’ve taken myself out for a run twice a week for seven weeks in a row now, and not only do I get the pleasure of writing that down in my bullet journal so I can look at my exercise log and feel like I’m getting somewhere, but I can actually feel the progress I’ve made. I’ve started to increase my running intervals by one minute per week (currently 3 mins run, 1 min walk) and the nasty hill at the start of one of my regular routes isn’t bothering me nearly as much any more.
Another benefit to pavement running is getting to see snapshots of my neighbourhood. This is especially welcome at the moment; these two runs per week have become precious time alone with my thoughts outside the house. When I first started medium distance running in 2006 (training for 10Ks then half marathons before a trailing off of energy/interest and then a savagely broken foot) I always listened to music, but later I found I vastly preferred engaging with the sounds of wherever I was running. There’s a meditative quality to the rhythmic slap of trainers on pavement that makes me feel connected to my body and the earth I’m running on, and I don’t think I’d get the quality of contemplation I get on my sporty jaunts if I was distracting myself with music.
With spring springing at the moment, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying dashing past pretty front gardens, seeing nature bounce back after the grey weather and occasionally being surprised and delighted by the things people are sticking in their windows. The rainbows in windows theme may be aimed at kids, giving them something uplifting to spot around their neighbourhoods during this confusing, scary time – but it’s helping me, too.
I’ve been ploughing on with the many moving parts of my fast-approaching new music launch day by day: recording podcast episodes, liaising with my remote drummer on parts for the new song I’m recording, having Skype meetings with my illustrator, picking a WordPress theme for my new website and getting stuck into that, trying not to get too caught up in the news or feeds, trying to stay reasonably cheerful and pragmatic and feel lucky to have the things I have and not dwell on the scary parts (someone in my street has CV, I’m not eligible for any government grants, I’m scared for my family and friends – you know, the new usual). But, on Tuesday, a storm hit.
I’ve written many songs in the past about feeling sad, and I’m sure I’ll write many more, and occasionally I am able to take my own advice and just give myself a break. So, for most of Tuesday, I lay prone on the sofa and felt my feelings, cuddled my dogs and made no apologies to anyone. Then on Wednesday, I got up and started again, feeling fortunate I was healthy and housed and in a happy relationship and had interesting creative projects to sink my teeth into, and a group of really great people to write an email to.
Yesterday, when I saw those four words connecting rainbows in a neighbour’s window, I felt grateful to whoever printed them out and taped them up. It’s very hard to reduce this big, messy, scary, painful time into short phrases, and not useful to dismiss everything people are feeling and say the equivalent of “cheer up, it might never happen”. It *is* happening, and whatever our situation and location, it’s happening to all of us.
I don’t know what’s next in all of this, and I’ll always be trying to figure out what my place and purpose is in the world, but I know I can believe in these three words: “storms don’t last forever”.
Love to you and yours
PS I played “Seashaken” live online yesterday for my second appearance on the Cosmic Shambles Stay At Home Festival, in between an incredible astrophysicist and one of my favourite living poets. You can watch the whole show again right here. Check out the upcoming schedule here and you can watch lots of the shows on catchup here.
If you haven’t downloaded the song yet, get it free / PWYW here.
PPS it’s exactly 4 weeks til the big new project launch, YAY!
PPPS I cleared a proper space for my studio plants and they wanted to say hello, as did Babybear who has been with me my whole entire life, I have a photo of us in hospital together when I’d just been born, awwwhhhhhh.