My Own Space: The Middle Miles

A close friend and gifted writer, runner, and artist, Megan Roth, once said, "Running 50 miles is simple." followed by, "All I had to do, all day, was run."

To me, someone with the attention span of a goldfish, a propensity to hop between projects and interests like a caffeinated housefly among dishes at a potluck church picnic, as well as a hearty aversion to running, this sounded like utter horse manure. At first...

However, If there's one thing I've learned over the (gosh, I guess 10) years of being friends with Megan, is that she rarely misses with her perceptions, like it or not. So, I continued on with the reading.

Maybe next time you tackle something like a marathon or dinner with your in-laws or a standardized test or a baseball game, try to be only in the world of that thing, in the moment, and don't preoccupy yourself with other worlds. You can't control them. It doesn't matter who's winning the ballgame, or what the stock market looks like, or what your friends are all doing while you run a marathon. It only matters that you are doing a thing, now, and now is your time to do that thing and nothing else. If you want to flow, you must enter the thing you are doing and stay there through the end. - M. Roth

And now comes the parallel with the studio build. I struggle with long term projects, deadlines 9 months out, anything that allows wiggle room for my procrastination to preoccupy itself with something newer, shinier, and more interesting. To say that taking on a project as ambitious as a basement renovation, by myself, has been daunting would be an understatement. I set out with a little part of me going, "Abby's not going to be happy when this isn't done in like 3 months... That's actually pretty likely to happen." 

Then this morning, I woke up dead tired. Two enormous cups of coffee barely blipped the meter. I distracted myself, "Hey, I'll call dad and catch up." Forty minute conversation. Let's check the facey pages. Wonder what's on Twitter. Oooh, that's a cool Instagram. Man, I need to go down and get started, it's already 8:45. Maybe I need a contingency plan in case I'm not finished by Oct 11. I don't think I can hide that much lumber... 

Then I got a little more distracted and watched this video:

I want an MP3 of that to wake up to every morning. Things exist first in our mind's eye, our dreams, our aspirations. I've been thinking about this build for a long time, but thinking isn't getting anything done. I had to get off my butt, and get to work. Contingency, schmontingency. I'm gonna rock this thing. Gotta do, gotta do, gotta do.

I want the end result. I know the studio that I have been seeing in my mind's eye when I first drew out the outline of the space on a piece of paper. It feels as if it's space I've already inhabited, familiar, warm, inviting. Aside from photography, this is the largest project I've ever taken from my head to creation, from concept to execution. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling.

Then, there's the little doubts that creep in. I'm roughly halfway through building it, yet it still seems like the end isn't close enough, which can be defeating at times. Abby has ever so gently requested that it be finished no later than October 11, when we will be having house guests. <gulp> Three more weeks. Essentially 5 more work days. I've got 9 work days in it so far across 4 weeks, including a 3 day weekend. 9 days in. Halfway done. Basic math. Crap. Need more than 5 to go. Better get off my butt and get to work.

So, I spent about 9 hours today finishing the rough milled lumber wall that will be largely the focal area of the studio space. Measure, cut, drill, screw. Rinse. Repeat. I hit a rhythm. I got in a groove and didn't realize I'd blown past lunch, and that at 4PM my body was going, "Yo, a sandwich? Burrito? Burger? Anything!" So I did have to pause for a couple of slices of cold pizza.

Process turned into flow, turned into results. The whole wall was finished, and I got started on the rough milled wainscoting on the wall behind the couch in the seating area. Progress. One foot in front of the other, one thing at a time.

Then I got a text message (yes, sometimes we text each other inside our own house. Because, stairs.) from Abby saying that they were upstairs getting ready for bed. <Good grief, it's already 6:30? Holy crap.> So I ran up, got through J's bedtime routine, and was done for the day. I went to the kitchen, poured myself a bourbon on the rocks, took a shower, and sat down on the couch with some Gov't Mule on. It was a good day. Tomorrow will need to be more of the same. I'm ready for it.

The sorta unrelated but pertinent closing thought here, is that, y'all, I've got an amazing wife. I'm perpetually grateful for the fact that she's giving me the gift of long weekend days to build this space. Toddlers are a handful, and ours is no exception. A 9 hour day playing solo mom is no cake walk. I did pop my head up every time I heard a tantrum, and she handled all of it with determination and grace as any amazing mom would. She even managed to design invitations for a birthday party, design a sticker, run errands, get J new shoes, and get some flowers cut and pulled around the mailbox. Amazing, I tell you. Amazing. 

What project is looming for you, and what are you doing about it?