Thursday, May 24, 2012

Like Crack

5/24/12, fountain pen, Hand Book sketchbook
“It’s like crack!” exclaimed Lisa, describing how she feels after the 6 a.m. Jazzercise class we both attend. “That rush keeps me going the rest of the morning,” she said.

I have been going to Jazzercise classes three times a week for 13 years. I work hard, I sweat hard, keeping my pulse rate at the optimal aerobic level for at least 30 minutes, followed by a strength routine and stretching. Yet I have never, ever experienced the endorphin high that Lisa and my runner friends describe.

That always made me feel a bit cheated: This much work, and all I get is sweat? How much harder do I have to work to feel that way? But over the years I have come to accept that if I haven’t experienced a rush from exercise by now, I’m probably not going to. (You may be asking, Then why in the world does she get up for a 6 a.m. Jazzercise class? Believe me, I ask myself that all the time.)

Now I realize I’ve been trying to get high all these years from the wrong drug. Sketching is the real crack! After spending a couple hours at a coffee shop sketching other patrons, I drive home with a buzz that lasts the rest of the day (no, it’s not caffeine – I usually drink decaf). This buzz may be partly due to the surreptitious nature of sketching people without their consent and constantly being alert to avoid being caught. It could be adrenalin as much as endorphins.

But I get the same rush while focusing on a water tower for an hour, painting the struts and girders with watercolors, or while trying to capture the texture of the skin of a Komodo dragon eyeing me from its enclosure at the zoo.

5/8/12, F-C Pitt Artists Pen, watercolor, Hand Book watercolor sketchbook

As a fiber artist working slowly and steadily with needle and thread, I know well the calming, meditative quality of placing tiny stitches, one after the other, thousands of times. There’s no doubt that I enjoy that feeling also.

But baby, it ain’t crack. And I’m always looking for the next fix.
5/24/12, fountain pen, Hand Book sketchbook

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