Diving In

The swimming pool at Rose Park was not heated when I was a child. I could see the mountains from whence the water came–Rock Creek joined the Yellowstone River as it flowed past Billings, and I knew from many hikes that snow lingered in the Beartooth Mountains throughout the summer. I never wanted to dive into that pool, but eventually something–or someone–made me take the plunge. I think perhaps I really feared that moment of being in the air, when it’s too late to change my mind.

Then, of course, once I was in and my body had adjusted to the temperature, I never wanted to get out.

I still approach tasks this way. If I were a sensible human being, I would exercise for an hour every day, practice music for two hours, write for two hours, do thirty minutes of Latin, and clean one or two rooms of the house. I would stretch a novel over a period of several days instead of devouring it in one four hour stretch. I would even see the wisdom of working on Christmas gifts in July.

I haven’t posted to this blog since August, so here I am at a writing retreat dedicating a full weekend to nothing but writing. I forgot to pack the Aspercreme, but I did remember Advil.

Last Monday I picked up my baroque flute to relearn an aria from Bach’s Coffee Cantata. Three hours later the frustrating passages were not much better, since I could barely move my fingers. The music, however, continued to play incessantly in my brain and came much more easily the next day. This would also happen if I practiced each passage for a few minutes each day and ran the CD in my car, which would all be much less painful. I know my cats would prefer it that way.  

I love to walk, once I get started. I have no problem with a full 10 mile hike on a Saturday; the routine 30 minutes a day in the park by my house recommended by anyone who knows anything about weight loss almost never happens. Neither does the weight loss, because after all a 10 mile hike earns a milkshake on the way home from the mountains.

I did in fact begin work on a cross-stitch Christmas stocking at the cabin last summer. I stopped when I could no longer see across the room. Three months and several binge sessions later I finally finished Santa’s puppy. I’ll probably have to pin the unfinished work to a store-bought stocking this year.

As for housecleaning, I tried to really clean the bottom of the shower recently. After four hours of incessant scrubbing with many toxic chemicals, I gave up, squirted some toilet bowl cleaner on it, and went to bed. The next morning, halfway through my shower, I remembered. The shower was actually clean. My shoulders hurt for two weeks.

Peer pressure got me into that swimming pool, and it’s still what keeps me going. I joined a walking club, the Fair Oaks Sole Mates. Music is always with friends, and I can’t let them down by not learning my part. I come repeatedly to the Write by the Lake Retreat  because I sign a vow to accomplish a task and have to report my progress to my host, Jennifer Sander. I have to keep up with my most advanced Latin student, and I participate in online study groups. The house gets cleaned when guests are imminent. And I don’t want to let down my son, since the stocking is meant to welcome his new wife into our family.

For better or worse, I think I have accepted the fact that I need both support from friends and uninterrupted time for concentration to really accomplish my goals. I’m just not a Daytimers sort of person. Just make sure I come out of the water before my skin turns purple.

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Author: 1womanretreat

Kathryn is a freelance writer, musician, and Latin tutor based in the Sierra foothills. She enjoys performing and teaching early music on recorder and flute.

One thought on “Diving In”

  1. it is always hard to take the plunge and get started with anything, I agree. But it feels so good once that first step is behind you and you are swimming, however slowly, towards completion.

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