Pushing Ahead

Poplars at dawn, with moon. Ft. Worden, Washington

My time at Journalfest was wonderful, but coming home means returning to a routine. No more hanging out at Undertown, a cafe built in the underground ruins of Port Townsend, WA. No more taking a slow walk along a row of poplars, listening to the ripping sound as the wind plucks the leaves from the branches.

It’s back to a four-mile walk at dawn, the discipline of to-do lists and travel laundry, chores that didn’t get done while I was gone, and answering accumulated emails.

When I started out this morning, my knees protested. They began to convince me that a short walk around the block would be enough. I told them that the airplane ride yesterday had been long, so they might be creaky today. Halfway around the park one of

Floor insert at doorstep of Undertown Coffee and Wine Bar

my knees began to send threatening messages–serious pain every step. I thought of turning back. And then I had another idea. I slowed down. Stopped. Stretched by standing on my toes. And began to walk slowly ahead. The other knee chimed in, encouraging me to turn back, go home. I took another step ahead. Slowly. No longer in aerobic territory. Hardly classifying in the exercise category at all. But it was forward motion. I continued at this snail’s pace around the rest of the park.

Stairs to climb up to street level. Get moving.

At the intersection, I stepped off the curb. No pain. I walked deliberately across the street. Worked just fine. With each block I stepped it up a speed–first purposeful,  then stride, then arm-swinging walking, then aerobic walking. Letting my knees catch up with my determination had done the trick. No complaints from them for the rest of the four-mile walk.

When you face creative work, you may hear the same complaints from your heart–it’s too hard, you need a rest, it’s not great timing. Don’t leave the studio. Slow down, put hand to paper in an exercise, then begin to move slowly ahead. Push ahead to do some thinking about what you are creating, pick up the pace, and keep moving. Pushing ahead clears the road, and the mind. You can push through the frustration and reluctance. You can. If you leave the studio, it will be that much harder to come back to it.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and creativity coach who works with people facing change or re-inventing themselves.