Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spartan means--Arcadian writing, and in life

I've been overweight a good deal of my adult life. It kinda crept up on me, because I'd never had a weight problem as a kid or a teenager, but in my mid twenties I started creeping up in weight. By the time I hit forty I was resigned to being heavy. I won't sugar coat it--I gave up. I made excuses for my weight, I rationalized my bad behavior away, and I settled into a life of comfortable obesity.

But it wasn't very comfortable, and the extra weight became harder to bear with each passing year. Being heavy isn't any fun at all, and when I developed heart trouble it became apparent that the extra weight was (and is) literally trying to kill me.

For me it's simple--I either have to move or die, and I've decided to get up out of the chair and move. I'm exercising almost every day, and I'm trying very hard to control my lousy eating habits. I'm walking, and I've decided to carry a loaded backpack to help me work myself into shape.

I've mentioned before that Colin Fletcher is one of my writing heroes, and his book, "The Complete Walker" remains as a definitive guide for the serious backpacker. Any discussion of backpacking will sooner or later turn toward the subject of getting in shape to walk with a pack on your back, and Fletcher coined a phrase at the end of a section of the book dealing with getting in shape to hike that stuck with me over the years--and inspired the title of this blog post:

"I'm afraid all these strictures end up sounding ferociously austere. But Arcadian ends can justify Spartan means. Many a beautiful backpacking week or weekend has been ruined by crippled city-soft muscles--because their owners had failed to recognize the softness, or at any rate to remedy it." -- Colin Fletcher, writing in The Complete Walker

So my loaded backpack is my Spartan means, and living, and being healthy and in shape, will be my Arcadian ends. That's a deal I'm finally prepared to make.

I have to make the same sort of deal with my writing life--I'm finding too many ways to avoid writing. It's frustrating, because I'm not suffering from a case of writer's block. I'm not having a crisis of confidence. And I'm certainly not losing some ways my interest in writing is greater than it ever was. 

So what's the problem? 

In my case it's pretty simple. I don't manage my time well. That's a killer for me. I need to organize my days better. My writing cross is time management, and it is easily as heavy a load as that forty-pound pack I carry on my walks.

We all have a cross we carry--and the solution isn't to ignore it and hope it will go away. I'll gladly carry my writing cross, because I know that it, like the backpack, will feel lighter if I acclimate myself to the weight. Spartan means are justified by Arcadian ends, and I'm ready to pay the price to get the payoff. 

What's your writing cross? How do you deal with it? 

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, I totally know what you mean.

    I like to walk to the grocery store and then walk home with all my shopping in my backpack. My problem is that it's so dang hot these days that I either have to wake up at the crack of dawn or go out in the evening to avoid the heat.

    I'm glad that you've made some changes to improve your health. You're someone I definitely want to have stick around for many more years.