Some weeks are like watching a supernova from millions of light years away -- light exploding in slow motion, and by the time you can see it, it's been over forever. The thought inevitably appears, easy, "What do I have to show for it?"
This has always been something for me to contend with -- I come from a legacy of people who make something from nothing. Admirable, of course, but accompanied by the invisible pressure to have something to show for yourself, for your time living and breathing. This, combined with a near-constant compulsion to create things half-dreamt, projects scribbled in any number of partially-filled notebooks, and a tendency toward solitary activities, and it's easy for me to fall into rabbit holes of hyper-activity. It affects everything -- I run more frequently and faster (even when a wiser person would skip a day because it's 95 degrees outside), I cook almost every single one of my meals, I heap on gigantic, unnecessarily complicated projects on top of rational, necessary ones. (Case in point: I need a new laptop bag, but because I can sew bags, and I would be able to design a bag that is precisely what I need it to be, I decide I have to make one instead of buying one. But of course I don't have time, so I end up lugging my laptop to the coffee shop in a reusable grocery tote. The ridiculousness of this is not lost on me.)
And then there are some things that require pacing, some moderation of speed. Ideas will not necessarily come when called, and so sometimes the hardest work is to sit. (I sound like my mother.) I've learned a little bit about this in the past few years, and for me the biggest challenge is to learn to be kind to myself in those times of sitting. When I've done all the running I can do, and all that's left to do is stretch.
This arch is what I see after I've finished the loop in Prospect Park, and my run is almost finished. I've just run up a long, slow hill, and sprinted down the last incline, and I'm sweaty and sore and tired and not quite done. I tell myself to pay attention, this is what it feels like to be young and healthy. One of the things I love about running is its immediacy -- I haven't made anything tangible at the end of it (aside from perspiration), but an entire hour of hard work has passed.
I read a book by John Updike a couple years ago about the end of a marriage, and in it he writes,
... if temporality is held to be invalidating, then nothing real succeeds.
So here we are. Permanence itself may be a tempting fiction, and the measure of time spent might be more happily what was noticed than what was produced.