Thursday, June 11, 2015

Evanston: short old geek closing circles

        The above photos are brought to you courtesy of the Apple watch activity app.  
        Tuesday afternoon found me thirteen minutes short of completing the exercise circle and one hundred and three calories short of completing the burned calorie circle.  I was also four hours short of standing up every hour, but that would take care of itself by evening.  So I went out and walked down to the lake which I otherwise would not have done just then.
        I like to think that I have always been fit, but undoubtedly the app is making me fitter.  I am moving and exercising more than I would without it.  Part of this admittedly is vanity.  I like weighing what I did when I graduated from college and wearing the same size Levis.  But part of it is business.  Next year I will be sailing GANNET seriously again, and crossing oceans on a Moore 24 is physically strenuous, as perhaps only those who have raced to Hawaii can fully appreciate.  My body is constantly, day and night, resisting motion and gravity.  That more than handling lines or the tiller concerned me earlier this year when my shoulder was painful.
        The life of an artist goes against everything known about positive reinforcement.  He or she writes or paints or composes, and when the work is sufficiently finished goes to the deepest well on Earth and drops it in.  When he is young, he waits hopefully and impatiently, but finally grows bored and continues on with life, perhaps even writing or painting or composing something new and dropping it in the well too.  If he is fortunate, weeks or months or years later, when he is doing something else, watching a baseball game, eating dinner, sleeping, he hears a splash and wonders what it is.  
        An example:  I’ve sailed to Australia’s Lord Howe Island twice.  I wrote an article about that beautiful but little known island during my first visit.  It appeared in print during my second, four years and a circumnavigation later.  Fortunately I was paid on acceptance.
        To be an artist demands fanatical self-belief.  And I expect that all artists must from time to time wonder if that self-belief is not only fanatical, but delusional.
        Activity apps work because they function oppositely, providing immediate positive reinforcement and gratification.  I can see my progress at a glance.  And completing those three pretty circles is compelling and addictive.  Perhaps the best way to fit the plague of obesity is to give everyone an Apple watch or a Fitbit.
        I’m in the same situation today as I was on Tuesday with my calorie and exercise circles only half complete, but it is about to rain and I have a sore head.
        The rain precludes a walk.  The sore head, a consequence of the skin cancer specialist removing so much tissue yesterday that I may no longer be more than six feet tall, precludes my doing anything as strenuous as push-ups or crunches until tomorrow.
        I’m on a roll, having completed all three circles for five days in a row.  If I make it to seven I get an award.
        I’ll figure something out.