“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” – Mark Twain
I have never been accused of being obsessed with health. Growing up in a house where the family business was filling vending machines, there was plenty of access to foods that were built on the twin pillars of high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. As a kid, if it was time to run the mile in gym class, you best believe I was the last one puffing around the track by a wide margin.
Somewhere towards the end of high school, I started thin out and be more active. At the end of college, I learned to enjoy running. Of course, back in the day, I also did lots of stupid things like jumping off loading docks and running around on concrete floors with little to no disregard for my joints. At 43, my running days are behind me and it’s now all about the exercise bike. Much like a pitcher who’s lost some speed off their fastball, you either adapt or hang it up.
Aside from physical health, I’ve also come to realize how poor some of my creative, emotional, and spiritual disciplines were and how that was affecting my health as well. Which is why I’ve started on building small daily habits that will start putting me in line there too. Typing out these blog posts is one of them.
I had no idea what I was going to write about today and honestly, this post might not do anyone else any good at all. That’s fine. Sort of like me getting my 9 miles in on the bike this morning, it’s not about where I went (after all, it’s a stationary bike). It’s about getting my ass in the seat and putting in the work. Maybe it doesn’t pay off today, maybe it doesn’t pay off tomorrow. But it will eventually.
I’ve just spent the better part of an hour trying to get the drain in our bathroom sink to drain properly. Since a lot of the more wondrous and corrosive chemicals don’t play with with septic systems and ours is roughly 30 some odd years old, I tend to lean into the more gentle and natural solutions whenever possible. So a box of baking soda, a gallon of white vinegar, and new plunger were my weapons of choice for this mission.
It’s pretty interesting the things that can be accomplished with baking soda and white vinegar. Baking soda is a nice scrubbing agent for things you don’t want to go medieval on with steel wool and vinegar helps to take the stink out of laundry. Fun stuff and they also work pretty well on drains (in my experience). Well, this time around, it took a few rounds and a bit of work with the plunger, but we’re draining again.
What struck me afterwards was that a bit of regular maintenance would’ve made this job simpler or perhaps eliminated it altogether. The next thought that came to mind was that creativity is a lot like that too.
By keeping the creative muscles somewhat in shape, it’s a lot easier to get into some heavy lifting when you need it; rather than trying to lift a car off someone when you’ve barely done more than lift cans of beer for the last five years. I’ve found myself seeking out new ways to keep creativity supple, or to borrow one of Tom Brady’s favorite words, pliable.
Finding those little routines and disciplines that are the creative equivalent of stretching has been a challenge but also a lot of fun. It’s the reason why I’ve been journaling more on a daily basis and also part of the reason for my yearly reading goals (which I’ve already surpassed for this year!). Even taking in creative helps keep the thinker ticking along rather than seizing up. Because if there’s one thing that I know, things tend to seize up at the worst, or most inconvenient, times.