Friday, December 26, 2014

The Joys (or Not) of Commuting

The above picture was taken Wednesday, 
Christmas Eve, at about 7:30 a.m.
I was half way to a morning swim practice 
on the far east side of Indy, a trip that spanned 
nearly the entire metro area, west to east.
I've commuted by bus to work and to just about
everything I want to do, every event I want
to attend, for virtually my entire working life.
Of those, only the first job involved just
one bus ride from home to work and back.
Everything else has involved two rides, taking about
two hours one way. In that amount of time, 
I could drive to just about any one of the state borders.
"Get a car," you say?
Well, when I was more naive, I believed that success,
like that of folks who worked in Manhattan,
involved having your own apartment and taking
the subways to work. I got that part of my dream.
However, here in Indiana, having an apartment 
and taking the bus relegates you to the category 
of "poor life decisions."  While I knew early on
I didn't want an over-priced mini-McMansion
or a gas-guzzling SUV, I didn't realize just how much
I was denying myself opportunities to enjoy this city 
by not having a car.  However, earning enough money 
to support said car also seemed a thankless task, 
one eternally beyond my means.

When I joined Indy Masters about eighteen 
months ago, I did so with trepidation, just wanting
to improve my swimming skills to help me lose weight.
I had no idea that it would become such a part
of my identity, not only helping with weight loss,
but with issues of confidence and self-esteem that
have plagued me my entire life. Participation
in the practice sessions has led me to 
the thresholds of other places I want to enter;
at a point in my life where most would think 
I should be kicking back to enjoy my "idle time," 
I am trying to to achieve my biggest, 
most illusive dream, to become a "working artist," 
with gallery exhibitions added to my resume 
with embarrassing regularity. 
I would also like to become a really
good swimmer, one who can look at a span of water 
and know she can swim across it successfully.
And I want a car.

I missed the IAM Holiday Party last weekend, 
only to find the Head Coach, Dean Hawks,
had inaugurated a new award, the Wyoming Award, 
which I found I'd earned because of my near-daily
commutes to practice. Coach Dean migrated
to Indy from Wyoming a couple years ago.
I guess he thought my bus rides were nearly
the equivalent of driving across Wyoming to get,
well, anywhere. I joked it should become a 
"traveling trophy," but I think I will put it
on the front bumper of my first car, and I will take
both trophies to practice with pride.
Thank you, Dean. Thank you, George. Thank you, Mel.
Thank you, Brian, the only person who knew
the details of "two buses and a half-mile walk."


Anonymous said...

Now that you are so strong and much lighter, you might also try a bike for your commutes. The mayor has put in a whole lot of bile lanes around town.

Julie said...

Interesting read about dreams and reality. Well done you ...

Speedway said...

Well, hello, Pi, and Merry Christmas. Yep, I'm stronger and lighter, but I don't think I'll be riding a bicycle anywhere, anytime. It's a matter of my knees protesting the motion of pedaling, and a sense of personal safety. Besides, if I want to continue work, developing the story lines for a couple books, I will need a car to do research. Also, I'll need one to participate in "away" swimming competitions (i.e., the Ohio River swim).

Thanks, Julie. The difference between dreams and reality is, I've found, too often delineated by dollar signs. I've done what I am able to w/limited means, but to go further requires add'l effort. I want to make that effort.

William Kendall said...

Sometimes our dreams can feel quite elusive. I do know the value of a good swim, but in my case the commute is merely a five minute walk over to the campus pool.

Speedway said...

G'morning, William. Yep, achieving dreams can be elusive. I've found at a late stage in life, that one must be taught HOW to achieve one's dream, it doesn't just *happen.*

It's been in fairly recent years that art students take courses on how to build and maintain their *practice* as professional artists. College job fairs of the time were useless to me as there were always recruiters for bankers, attorneys, business majors, etc., but nothing for professionals in the art world (graphic designers and such.) Somehow, a career as an artist was just meant to magically happen. I came from a family that was taught to not make waves, to be grateful for whatever work one was handed.

What the near daily habit of swimming has given me is a degree of confidence and discipline that carries over into my drawing/painting/photography habit.

I've learned how much work it takes to be able to swim a mile, how much harder one must work to do it well, and how much harder I will need to work to be able to swim a 10K. As a result, for some reason I am more likely to get off my duff to work on a drawing.