I write, I read and I walk.
Oh, sure I do other things: I play (music, board games, video games), I watch (movies and television shows), I stretch (I do yoga and Tai Chi), I draw (if you want to call it that), I listen (to music, to radio shows, and, most of all, to people), and I talk (but really try to listen lately), and I exercise (at the gym, usually).
Still, though, if I haven’t done those other things on a particular day, I don’t feel as if the day has been some sort of loss. If I don’t read, write, and walk, the day has a hole in it.
I write every morning. Often, I’ll muse about in my journal for a while, and then get on with the task of writing my daily essay. I go about my day, doing things that I have to do, and then, when I have free time in the afternoon, I go for a walk. When I come home, I eat, and sit down and read.
Sometimes I do those other things as well. As I said, though, if I don’t get around to those other things, it doesn’t bug me.
The way I’ve learned that something is important to me is when I don’t feel right when I haven’t done it. So I tell friends my significant other how blessed I am to have them in my life. A day without that is incomplete, somehow.
And I write, read, and walk.
At this moment, as I write, The Mountain Goats’s “This Year” is playing on the Spotify app on my laptop. The refrain of the song is “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.” I listen to this song a lot, as I need to be reminded of that refrain, given the particular trials and tribulations that are plaguing my life at this moment.
The Mountain Goats get about a penny every time I play this song on Spotify. This makes me happy. Glad to be supporting them.
At present, I’m reading Donald Ray Pollock’s “Knockemstiff,” a great collection of stories about the desperate circumstances of the desperately poor in southern Ohio. Pollock worked in a paper mill for thirty years, and didn’t start writing until he was 45; I find this incredibly inspiring.
I’m also taking Pollock’s advice of typing out pieces of great writing so that I can better appreciate them. Yesterday I typed out the first seven pages of “Infinite Jest,” and appreciated David Foster Wallace’s writing more than I ever have in my life. Today, I will probably type out another few pages, a little each day. Yes, I will also type out the footnotes at the end.
When I go for walks, I listen to music and audiobooks, but sometimes I just go walking, letting the things I encounter be the soundtrack of the walk. Often, the soundtrack is little more than the sounds of my feet on the pavement, and often my mind is on little more than the task of putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes my mind turns to regrets over the past, and worries about the future, by often, mind just quiets down, but sooner or later, it just gets back to the business of just moving me forward.
Besides feeling wrong if I don’t do these things, I feel so right when I do them. This is what Derek Leif does, I think to myself, and now, this is what Derek Leif has done.
So now I’ve written. I will read. I will walk.
It feels right.