The artist and the athlete

Confession time: As I type this I have 11 tabs open on my Internet browser with a blank word document nestled underneath. Twitter and Facebook are open, of course, along with one of my three email addresses. Also open is my web-based calendar, a recipe for a holiday treat, and three blog posts which I am reading and taking notes from.

Confession time No. 2: I was doing math during my yoga class today. Yep. At one point my mind wander to my running workout for tomorrow and I tried to calculate my time for the upcoming 600 meter intervals.

A beautiful scene at Bond Lake during my long run this weekend.

A beautiful scene at Bond Lake during my long run this weekend.

In experiments with myself, I’ve noticed that multi-tasking doesn’t work well. I don’t get more done, I merely create the illusion that I’m getting more done while needlessly stressing myself out. This doesn’t mean I don’t multitask. In fact, it’s pretty freaking hard not to. Even if I had a screen open only to write this blog post, for instance, I would still start twitching and become overwhelmed by the desire to check my email. Or Facebook. Or Twitter.

Which is one of the reasons I found this story on how a nature hike can unlock your creativity so powerful. The moral of the story: exposure to nature over a number of days helps improve thinking. And this is exposure to nature without distractions — no checking in on Foursquare or posting photos to Facebook. Strenuous physical activity seems to help, too.

And so there seems to be some science developing behind a truth my dad long ago taught me: Any time spent in the woods is time well spent.

I believe there is an athlete in all of us. I also believe there is an artist in all of us. The problem is, sometimes we don’t see or value what we do as athletic or creative. But they are there. And they feed off each other. Think that it’s not important? We reach new places in our lives through movement and creativity and by doing so we open up the potential for solutions to problems, to new ways of approaching difficult situations and to simply loving what is, which, at the end of the day, is the one thing that is always in our own power. This week, I pledge to let my athlete and artist play, without the distractions. I will let one inform the other. And I will see that my life is much richer when I show up and participate.

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