Now: Learning to read again
It’s getting cooler in New York, the mornings often smell like cross country, and whenever I am outside I feel content. And with that, I am mostly discontent. Which is to say, I constantly want to be outside.
Having moved out to East Flatbush, Kara and I are now just a 30–45 minute bike away from Jacob Riis beach. Unsure whether or not we have just been avoiding the day crowds or if we have just been soaking up the cooler weather, we have done a couple of afternoon/evening trips out to the beach. In our last visit, we noticed a handful of people looking out to the ocean with binoculars. Finally someone pointed out the large number of dolphins passing by and even a whale out in the distance. It was quite the sight to see as the sun was slowly setting.
At the other end of the days, I have been slowly getting back into running. I spent a few months just running once or twice a week to test the waters, and am now (somehow remaining patient) running 20-25 miles a week.
More important than the miles, I’ve been venturing over to the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Trail which has a beautiful gravel loop along the water. When I get on the trail, it is hard to believe I am in Brooklyn. I feel like I am in the south again every time I do a loop.
As I reflect on this, I think this is the first time since I first started running competitively that I have let myself have a more casual relationship with running. I have been trying to let my guard down and reevaluate my relationship with the sport. This isn’t to say I won’t continue to run competitively, that fire is still very much there, but rather, as I get older I am more interested in how I approach running.
It seems that I have been trying to take a step back and really consider my relationship with a lot of things in my life right now.
Kara and I were recently at a book store when I spotted Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer. On a whim, I picked it up and decided it was coming home with me. Little did I know how important that book was going to be. I have struggled to get into any habit of reading over the past year or two, and quite honestly I felt really discouraged by that. Because I want to read. I really do! But it always feels like a chore and I never feel the books pulling me back to them. So I kept chalking it up to “maybe this reading thing isn’t for me.”
Then I started reading about moss. And it was exciting! I was captivated! Who would have thought? While I have always been interested in nature, but I don’t think I have ever properly acknowledged it. As I was reading Gathering Moss, it dawned on me that the last time I was this excited about a book, it was when I was reading Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature. After cruising through Kimmerer’s book, I picked up The Wild Tress by Richard Preston to test my theory—do I really love reading about nature?
Turns out, I’m a sucker for this! I was reading about the early exploration of the redwood canopies and the birth of modern tree climbing, and I couldn’t get enough. While I am not sure if it is just a wave or not, I have decided to ride it. I am now reading Robin Wall Kimmerer other book, Braiding Sweetgrass, and let me just say… what an incredible author.
Between the beautiful weather and all of these books, I am dangerously close to expediting my mid-life crisis where I change careers and become a botanist. Which brings me back to evaluating my relationships with things and constantly wanting to be outside. While I was once consumed by my work, I am not finding myself wanting to work less and less. With commute times, somedays work pulls me away from home for up to 12 hours. And so I have been asking myself, how do I work less? And what does that even look like?
The “what does that look like” part is a little easier to thinking about. I want to go for more walks outside. I want to be able to spend more time with Kara. I want to buy a pair of binoculars and go bird watching. I want to run when it is light out.
So how do I work towards that? We will see. For now, I am going without social media on the weekends and turning down any freelance work. I think that will help me start to rewire my brain a bit.