Thursday, October 11, 2012

Second Winds, Literary and Others

Some years back, a student told you she hadn’t asked to be born.  Your response, immediate and pointed, surprised you, but in times of woe or weal, it seems to come back to give you some nudge of friendship.

At the time of the response, you were swimming at least a mile a day, a fact that could have had some influence on your response, which in so many words was that you surely wanted to be born. In fact, you swam a dedicated freestyle crawl to get to that egg first.

That particular swim was your most significant athletic accomplishment to date.  Although you came perilously close to running track events, your interest in so-called sports was from a sense of fun rather than competition.  You were in all ways a mediocre athlete.  Your talents leaned toward having fun.

While experiencing the pleasures of long distance running, you learned to appreciate the concept of the second wind, investigating all the anecdotal aspects of it you could find.  At first, your second wind began to wave its hand for recognition around mile six.  As your runs extended beyond ten miles, second wind began arriving around mile eight, more or less seducing you to investigate greater distances.

With swimming, the second wind kicked in at about the half-mile mark, inducing you to a) swim more boring laps and b) zoning out to a kind of alpha-wave state where boredom could not intrude.

Second wind for walking, at least the kind of walking you do, kicks in at about the beginning of mile three.

There is in fact a second wind that comes with writing.  At first, the second wind seemed to kick in around the finish of the first draft.  Callow youth that you were then, you took that sense of exuberance at the finish of the first draft to signify fun, which often meant there was no second or third or, heaven forefend, fourth or fifth draft.

Now, second wind in writing means the beginning of the revision progress which, in similar fashion to the second wind in running and swimming, the revision process produces a series of discoveries and insights that lure you on to the point where there is some kind of combustion or boiling over and there is even more fun to be had with the discovery, which leads to yet more risks.

Second wind in life is yet another matter to consider.  Life is in some large measure about gains and losses, the gains coming more from love, experience, wisdom, and insight than more transitory things. Loss, similarly, often relates to things and people you love being somehow gone from you.  No longer can you run a10K in less than forty-five minutes. Pure loss.  Even purer, given your having upgraded to titanium hips, running 10K at any speed is no longer a good idea.

You loved running.  Swimming was fun, but you did not love it.  Walking is fun, and so you try to keep fun levels to the point where you need a second wind to lure you into extending the experience and the results.

You love life and consider it fun, pushing at it so that you will need a second wind in it.  For the moment, writing is the second wind of life even though, anomalously, it is one of your life-long loves, itself representing a history of gains and losses.

With a second wind in life, you stand the possibility of being a more enduring person, a friend, a lover, and yes, a teacher and editor, things that extend the potential of being a more insightful writer.  For a time, of course.  Few things last as they are, evolving, catching a second wind.

Meanwhile, you have writing, with revisions, draft after draft, enhancing chances of discovery, warmed in the gentle rays of fun, waiting for the second wind to kick in.

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