It usually begins as a tiny thing. A single fired synapse that links across my brain to another creating a connection that wasn’t there before. Like pregnancy, I can have many of these without a successful fertilization. But the moment the idea forms and hugs the inside of my mind, there is the potential months down the line for something to emerge. There’s a reason I have a folder in my computer called “abortions and miscarriages” because that is what every idea is that isn’t carried out to fruition. It’s not a loss, it’s part of the cycle of fertilization – not every embryo is viable, not every idea is going to become a complete story. But when an idea takes hold and begins to grow I pay attention to it, nurturing it along, and tempering my hope with reasonable expectation. I’m not painting the nursery, but having a viable idea feels good, it feels right, it’s what I’m supposed to be doing: fulfilling my creative (if not biological) imperative.
It’s not my intention to use this triathlon blog to document my writing career, but these parts of my life are linked as we all link the different spheres of our lives. My training schedule forces me into a disciplined approach to my day, when I can book my clients, when I can commit to getting out pages. For a year I’ve seen incredible growth as a triathlete, and I have to admit it came at the expense of getting out pages. I was doing rewrites on a script, good and necessary work, but the Muse for a new story hadn’t visited in quite some time.
My yoga teacher told me a long time ago that the process of learning new physical movement rewires the brain. New neural pathways creating body intelligence takes time to learn and commit. Neurological studies have shown that the adult brain is capable of growth, unlike previous assumptions that once neural paths were formed in childhood they were fixed. Research in adult blindness onset determined that the adult brain is capable of rewiring paths and what much of what forges this rewiring is the will of the subject. Adult blindness forces people to map visual centers to tactile sensors; in order to learn Braille adults must rewrite their brains to “see” with their fingers. We know that the mass of the brain doesn’t change, but the internal connections can be rewired under focused, directed concentration. Doing this without a traumatic injury is possible and it still depends on the same principle – how much will can the subject muster to rewire their mind? The ability to muster will is different in every person. (This dialogue moves quickly into an ethical judgment of blaming the victim, for it assumes that if someone can’t rewire their brain, they are unwilling. This is not true, traumatic brain injury can also damage a person’s ability to summon will and we have yet to formally quantify what “will” means and if it can be measured. Especially without having to do an Ironman to prove it.)
What I know of myself as a change junkie is that I do not thrive unless I am learning something new, and my creative output suffers because of it. And yet because I am a unitasker I can only focus on learning one new thing at a time. In the last year I chose to learn how to become a triathlete. My next year will be a process of working hard to become the best triathlete I can be. That is different from the skills of swimming, biking, running, and transitioning. The basic pathways have been laid – the iron forge of will is no longer about transforming molten steel to a shape, it’s now how to sharpen the blade. Now that I am in the off season I am incorporating the different parts of my life, fusing one world into the other. That too requires concentration of will, but my unitask now is fruitful cross-pollination.
Which is why it is wonderful that the Muse has come back, and I’m making space in my life for what she brings.
It could also be the new bike.