May 3rd, 2010
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because we can

Do you ever have days where the weather seems to match your mood perfectly? Today began as humid and muggy with dark foreboding skies lurking overhead. Then a heavy rain which made the grass glow as if illuminated. It feels much like everything is vibrating, all of the trees, the flowers, and the insects hovering about. Everything is moist. And the smell! If only you could bottle it for later or wear it as a perfume. My mood is not heavy, but everything feels illuminated.

What is floating around in my brain right now?

Last September I started running. I have never been interested in running before, I dreaded it for most of my life actually. But for whatever reason after going for a run with my sister one day, something in me felt pulled to it. And I’ve been running ever since. In many ways it is more of a meditation, a rhythm, and I enjoy the sense of well being I get after doing it, the tiredness in my body. A few months ago I read a piece in the New York Times about a woman who ran many marathons throughout her life. On her death bed she turned to her husband and said, “I understand now why we do it, why we run.” Puzzled her husband replied, “Why?” She answered, “Because we can.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot for the last few days. Because we can. While we are healthy and able bodied, we must move about as much as possible. When my mother was hospitalized for the last few years of her life, I would go to see her almost every day. I traveled by bus two hours each way, and started my illustration career by her bedside, using her phone to talk to art directors and using the hospital fax machine to send rough illos. I recall trying to “give the impression” that I was working in my studio when talking on the phone, when in reality I was trying to feed my mother terrible puréed hospital food. It was challenging at times. And every day that I would leave the hospital I thought, “I must enjoy this fresh air, this sunset, this rain, this snowstorm, this movement, for every person in this hospital who cannot.”

And i still remember this feeling thirteen years later. And on my runs I do not think too much about distance or trying to be good at it, or perfecting something. I just want to feel my muscles and my lungs and breathe the fresh air and feel the ground under my feet (I wear barefoot shoes so it’s as close to shoeless as possible).

I suppose there are a lot of things you can apply this philosophy to. why do we write? why do we sing? why do we plant flowers? If ever there was a reason to do anything I think this is it. On those days where I am feeling lazy and unmotivated I travel in my mind to that dismal hospital and in moments I am putting my shoes on and jumping out the door. (for my mother who loved to sing and dance and windsurf. sometimes all at once!)

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