I have been struggling with inertia. I have many years worth of existing projects and ideas for other projects, but on many days, I just can’t make myself work on them and I sit endlessly consuming content on the internet, checking email, reviewing share prices and drinking tea.
One thing I had let slip from my life was regular walking, until one day last week, I forced myself out in the rain with the dogs for a long walk. The next day I did it again and again the day after that. It easily became a habit again, one I am grateful for and one that I’d almost forgotten the power of.
Walking has always been a big part of my life since, well since I learned to do it! I didn’t realise the significance of such a simple thing until quite recently, but over the last few days I have walked for at least 5 miles each day and the results are quite remarkable.
First of all, the mental fog I have had lifts almost immediately. Then I begin talking to myself, something I hesitate to share, but nonetheless a seemingly positive trait for me, as I don’t do a great deal of talking to anyone else usually.
After the first of these walks I scribbled down a hand made version of the mindmap attached to this post very quickly and without having to wait and think about what the branches should say…except for Boredom, which I think might have been added for the sake of symmetry, it didn’t feel right as soon as I added it, but I’ve left it there for now.
The first branch came out quicker than I could write it…Purpose. The failure to identify a purpose for my life makes me think that everything and maybe anything is futile. Is there a purpose strong enough to make me move and create again, or is everything we can conceive of as humans just trivial and pointless?
My plan is to expand on each branch of the mindmap over the next few posts to see if I can make any firm connections between these traits/issues and my inertia and lack of creativity of late.
Before that though, 2 pieces of content consumption have been revelatory this week.
A tale of two Bruces
The first of these is Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful new film, Letter to You, which is a kind of thank you from Bruce to the E Street Band and documents the recording process of their new album also called Letter to You.
At the beginning of the film Bruce asks the question “What makes me continue to do this?” followed by a long, stream of consciousness list of possibilities, including of course Purpose, Recognition and Ego…he concludes “All of the Above”
In this statement, Bruce illustrates a fine point of what makes some people achieve outward, obvious and evidently huge success, such as 50 year rock and roll careers and massive back catalogues of wonderful music. Ego was included, the desire for recognition was included and of course Purpose was included. These also immediately jumped out as candidates for my mindmap.
My second bout of positive consumption was Warner Herzog’s film about his friend Bruce Chatwin and his relationship with him, called Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin.
I’ve long been a fan of the work of both Herzog and Chatwin, but I hadn’t picked up on the fact that almost all of Bruce Chatwin’s successful literary output was secondary and almost incidental to an underlying project that remains unpublished called The Nomadic Alternative, in which he points to walking as an innate urge that holds within it more than the obvious benefit of transportation. The suggestion is that somehow walking is an important tool for our mental well being.
The change in my mindset and the clarity that 4 long walks with my dogs has brought, after a long period of inertia when I couldn’t make myself work on any of my self developed ideas or projects is quite remarkable. It has provided me with an immediate focus (whereby I’ve written this blog post after a prolonged silence, for one thing) and a bigger picture aim of sharpening my longer term focus on projects and mindset.