Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pallet of Motion (Thanks, Jill!)

Jill Homer did a post today on her blog Jill Outside ( called “Pallet of Motion”.  I love that image.  As a child, I spent more hours than I could possibly guess drawing, coloring, cutting, pasting, and creating.  I loved art.  And while I don’t practice it as much now, that way of seeing the world still resonates with me.  I experience this beautiful world as a work of art when I see the sun reddening the sky, tulips blooming in the yard, or autumn trees dropping a blanket of leaves on a trail.  The colors always draw me in and make me feel alive and awed.

That’s the physical world, but it makes so much sense to look at life as a developing work of art, too.  And to narrow that down to the ways we move – the activities that we do to exercise, stay fit, be happy… Those activities spark the same sort of passion inside me as when I look out at the view from a mountain trail or a big city race route.  I get that same feeling of being alive, growing, fulfilling some part of how I was put together as a creature when I ride or run.

So the pallet of motion is the diverse and colorful collection of things that each of us does to move our body for fitness and adventure.

Jill asked the question of why you started doing the sports that you now love.  How did each one become a blob on the pallet?

Running has been my longest and most consistent form of motion.  I started running during the summer before my Freshman year of high school.  Somehow, I got hooked up with the cross country kids who ran each morning during the summer in preparation for the fall CC season.  The first day I showed up, I had no idea what to expect.  My only running experience had been the mile run around the athletic fields in gym class.  I came wearing a beat up pair of canvas Keds.

I went on to run cross country and track all four years in high school, but I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily in love with running yet.  I liked it well enough, and I liked the benefits of running – the fitness, the feeling of accomplishment, the team camaraderie.  I continued running on my own in college and beyond.  I had periods of very few miles and lots of mile.  But it wasn’t until the last few years that running became one of those things that just feels right.  Like it’s the most natural thing for my body to be doing.  Like I’d go on doing it forever if by body couldn’t get fatigued.

I had a similar feeling about road biking a few years back.  I rode a bike growing up – both for fun and to get to my summer job or to friends’ houses.  But it wasn’t a passion.  Shortly after I got married, my hubby bought me a new bike – my first real mountain bike.  I started riding it around town and began to enjoy it more and more.  One September, I decided to do a 55 mile ride up the White Pine trail and back the next day.  Suddenly, I knew that I could do an endurance effort on a bike.  I bought a used road bike, planned my first century for the next spring, and completed another century that same summer.

Pedaling hard and fast down a smooth stretch of road was the first time that I felt a passionate connection to an endurance sport.  At the time, I thought, “How am I just discovering cycling now?  This feels like what I was meant to do.”  That intensity of feeling faded over time, but it was just the beginning of a discovery process.

From there, I moved into mountain biking.  This was partly to add some variety to the mix, and partly because the hubby would do it with me.  Mountain biking provides a combination of physical and mental challenge.  It’s like working through a puzzle while rolling down a trail.  A root, a rock, a steep decline, a hill, a tight curve…this piece, that piece, one here, now there…  It’s as fascinating as it is challenging.  I will never be an awesome mountain biker.  I’m too wussy.  But I do enjoy it.  It’s like combining cycling with trail running, and I’ve always preferred running or biking on trails to the road.

After about a year of doing nothing but biking, I had a desire to get back into running again.  After being away for a while, it felt different.  My muscles weren’t used to it anymore.  At the same time, my legs came back to it like I’d never been away.  A strange combination.  And suddenly, I loved it.  There was no pressure to perform or race.  I could just run whatever distance, speed, and location felt good.  Running felt so natural, which makes sense considering I’ve been doing it since I was 14.

When I was younger, I stuck to the roads mostly.  The smooth pavement felt easier, more secure.  But in my heart, I always loved the portion of a course that went through the woods.  I always liked the adventure of cross country more than circling a track.  Now, I would run on trails almost exclusively if there were more within running distance of my house.  Despite (and because of) the toughness and footing challenges, trail running has become the thing that I wish I could get paid to do.  It’s one of my top 3 favorite activities in this life.  I never get enough of the sights, smells, and joys of bounding past a rock, surging up a slope, slipping on some mud…  My heart pounding, the sun shining, the breeze blowing…

So in broad strokes, that’s a little bit about my pallet of motion.  Throw in a sprinkling of a dozen other things like hiking, tennis, dancing, dodge ball, walking, Frisbee golf, and swimming and the motion of my life is a fabulous picture becoming more and more complex and fulfilling.

What colors make up your pallet of motion?  How did they become a part of your life?

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Missy. I share your outlook of "life as a work of art."