Friday, March 07, 2014


Today, I ran round Princes Park in 11'44"96 which I should feel great about, but instead I exhaled an exasperated 'fuck...' because on Wednesday I ran it 11'34"57 and it's the first time I've slowed down in a number of weeks. 10 seconds is no arbitrary thing over 3.2km, wednesday me would have beat me today by 45 meters... I think... my mathematics may or may not be complete bullshit.

Anyway, I was thinking as I often do, about Kobe Bryant. I was thinking about a lot of shit though, and I don't want to get too convoluted. But basically, I'm running a lot of late, and surprisingly pretty much injury free despite only taking one rest day a week. And in the space of a month, I've gotten to be almost as fast as I was back in high school days. Kobe? In a minute. Anyway, to get that fast, at some point you need to get your mind comfortable with being physically uncomfortable for relatively long periods of time. Like 12-13 minutes is a long time to be uncomfortable when you can just decide to be comfortable. This grasshopper is the true secret of running, that I am giving away to you. It's actually, like all sports - a mind game. I understand this. But it's kind of unnatural, your bodies all like 'I am not comfortable with sustaining this level of exertion' and your mind is all 'I need to push myself harder!' or in my literal mind's case 'give it away give it away give it away now [ad infinutum]' It's a mental task that needs deep focus, and it's hard to describe as enjoyable or unenjoyable. It's literally uncomfortable, perhaps like eating corn chips, the pointy kind that you haven't chewed enough, it can be uncomfortable but still enjoyable. Kobe? Yes, back to Kobe. He's got an incredible work ethic. Day after day after day of practice and training, that's his job. For most we'd think this work ethic unusual, we'd have to take our annual leave, and then spend our annual leave training daily. And we'd feel really uncomfortable, and probably wrecked, and our bodies may even react adversely to the regime. But for Kobe, that's normal.

Then I came home and read something on my feedly feeder where an artist wrote about beating procrastination. A fine example of domain dependent thinking in me. Over two months I've gotten to a place where I just run, whether I want to or not, because on another abstracted layer of wants and desires, I want to have run. On any given day I want to be able to run 3km in a sub 12 minute time. But in order to do that, I need to keep running.

Yet I'd come to almost the reverse conclusion with my drawing. I was coming to think that procrastination was part of the creative process. Necessary. Yet, I want to have drawn, in virtually the exact same way that I want to have run, so that today I can draw, or run at the same level.

Drawing's slightly different. When I do studies, it's about accumulating knowledge, and muscle memory. Drawing is cumulative, where as physical fitness needs to be sustained.

I think broadly speaking, I procrastinate on drawing for two different motivations -

1. Problem Solving - when I want to draw something specific, there is in my experience a tremendous gap between what you think you can visualise conceptually, and what you can shake out of your wrist onto a page. I mean, when I do portraits of people I know, you learn quickly that even though you can recognise them anywhere on the street, distinguish them from every other person on the planet, you really don't know what you look like. The brain obviously uses some fucken short cut to recognise people. Perhaps a set of facial measurements or something. We think we can close our eyes and envision our closest friends whole faces, but really it's just a few features floating in some mysterious ether. And that works not just with faces but every other composition. This form of procrastination doesn't bother me.

2. Not Feeling It - more so than saying I'm scared, but being scared is a factor. I don't draw because most of the time I don't want to draw. I'm very not addicted to drawing, I possibly wouldn't even call it my passion. (I've come to believe I can live without a passion, and that Ken Robinson may even be doing more harm than he at least thinks he might be, and possibly more harm than good) but the article I read to day, directly challenged me by actually relating to my personal experience. Whenever I get in the zone drawing, it is never because I started in the zone, I got in the zone by drawing. Every single fucking time, once I actually start drawing, I start to enjoy drawing, I can get sucked in. My productivity with each exhibition ramps up.

And now I'm drawing again. And studies too, which generally lead to improvement. Improvements I'm not even conscious of.

The hard thing though, is that I've also come to realise that our societies praise of 'hard work' is a relatively new phenomena, and I think this 'protestant work ethic' where worshipped most leads to failure on a large scale.

My early phase of reconciliation is thus. Throughout my adolescence I always wanted to get a sit up and push up regime going. Just a daily routine. Every time I tried to get it started, I'd reflect on the three months that had passed betwixt then and the prior attempt (or perhaps just conscious desire) and reflect that if I'd just done 10 minutes of them each night, I'd be a lot fitter than I was then. I'd have already been where I wanted to be. Not procrastinating doesn't mean hard work. Or even 10,000 hours. It means doing some work.

I have the same simple observation, that if you manage to get one productive thing done a day, you are going to scream ahead of your peers.

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