Daily Rituals: walking and morning work

Yesterday, I caught part of an interview with Mason Currey, the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work on the CBC radio program Spark. When Nora Young (the presenter of Spark – I am a fan!) asked him what the common thread was in terms of a practice shared by the artists he researched for his book, Currey identified the habit of taking long walks. They then talked a bit about how this practice is not nearly as common these days. Oddly enough, I was in the car driving to meet a friend to take a walk at the time. Going for a walk is something I grew up doing. As a child I remember my parents taking me for walks (and some childhood tantrums on walks-gone-wrong!) and whenever I go home to Ireland I walk as much as possible: on the pier in Dunlaoghaire, up Killiney hill, along the Liffy in town, out in the countryside where my mum lives (walks before dinner and after dinner and in the morning too if the weather permits). I had no idea that this was unusual. Since I’ve been living in Calgary it’s taken time to find the best walking spots (especially now I am often walking with a stroller). Yesterday I was raring to get out for a stroll seeing as it was the first warm (i.e. above freezing) day we have had for a while. I find walking relaxing, energizing, and deeply enjoyable. I hadn’t thought about it in terms of having an intellectual or artistic function but it makes complete sense that it would.

So, in the name of forging ahead with my dissertation and developing supportive practices, I am going to make an extra effort to incorporate a walk into my day whenever the weather permits. I can’t work while Z is awake anyhow, so it makes sense to use some of that time to stroll and think about things and enjoy nature  – we really are blessed in Calgary with terrific access to natural beauty in the city.

The other practice that I’ve been working on (and Currey also talked about this in his interview on Spark) is getting up early, before the rest of my family, and doing some work then. As I type this I have been up and working for the past hour and I have organized my little Epistemology section and put some shape on the notes I’ve been gathering this week. I also located three or four more pieces to look over and perhaps use in my discussion. It was hard not to crawl back into bed after Z’s early morning feed but I am feeling pretty good now. I know it won’t work out every morning (I think it is very important not to be too rigid in my expectations) but I would like to be up early and getting at least an hour in whenever I can.


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