Just Slogging Along · 1 August 2015

A couple friends of mine and I were talking about running and they both said that sometimes, you just have to slog along. You just need to put in the miles whether there is any excitement or not. Whether the running seems more like work than fun. In fact, according to my friends, running is slogging out the miles more often than not. While I am finding that to be somewhat true with running, I find that there are days when I just need to slog along with my writing too.

Some people wonder what it is about running that makes people slog through those miles. They wonder why people put themselves through the pain and suffering. Through the cold and wet. Through the hot and muggy. They wonder whether going through the motions is worth whatever perceived gains a person attains from running. Or any endeavor for that matter.

Personally, I find great personal satisfaction from being able to run for forty minutes or more almost every day. There are days when I do not want to start. There are days when I want to quit partway through. There are days when I wonder what I am doing out on the road. But when I am finished, I realize that God is right. I need to run. To be more healthy for sure, but also just because He told me to do it.

Now, not everybody has been directed by God or their doctor or anybody else to run, but I have been. I know not why, but it seems that my Creator has instructed me to run. So I run. Sometimes, I just slog along. But sometimes I feel like I could run forever, it feels so effortless. Those are the days that make the slogging worth it. Those are the days that runners live for.

I find this to be the same with writing. Sometimes, I just need to slog through a writing session. It is one of those things that I believe God is telling me to do, but at least so far, I have found more great days than slogging days. I write with joy in my heart instead of dreading the session at the keyboard. Most of the time.

But there are days.

There are days when I find myself slogging along on the keyboard. I pound and pound and nothing comes out. Nothing worthwhile anyway. I look and see the rubbish that I have put into my files. And sometimes I look and see that the rubbish has made it to my blog or my books. When I do that, I wonder if I was just slogging along or if I was writing without a care in the world and just missed the fact that I had written so poorly. Or I wonder if I am just a poor writer who has deluded himself into thinking he has talent.

Either way, I find myself needing to slog along. Both in writing and in running.

The more I run, the more I find that I need to run. Just like with writing. The more I write, the more I need to write. Not that the words can flow each day like turning on a faucet, but I need to get the words onto the computer. I need to get my daily output done. Not just to say that I did it. At least not most of the time. I need to write to keep the juices flowing. Just like I need to run to keep the blood flowing.

Whether I am writing or running, I know that there are days when I can have joy in my heart and just run or write forever. Just like I know that there are days when I just need to run to run and write to write. There are days when I just need to slog along. But when I look back, I realize that just slogging along leads to more of those beautiful days of running and writing effortlessly. Which makes me glad that regardless of the circumstances, I know I just need to keep slogging along and enjoying the process. Of whatever it is I am supposed to be doing.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Settin’ and Visitin’ · 25 July 2015

Country store on dirt road.
Photograph by Dorothea Lange 1939 July

Poor English aside, I think settin’ and visitin’ is a lost art.

People are way too busy just to set a spell and visit. Now, I know that “set” is not really the correct word. People really ought to “sit and talk” rather than “set and visit,” but nobody seems to do that anymore. People do not just drop in or come by for a visit. It really is a shame.

I remember being a kid and being at any of our relatives’ farms. It seems people were always dropping by. Uninvited. It was not a strange thing or a nuisance. It was just the way of life. Neighbors were neighborly. I am sure people dropped by to borrow eggs or sugar sometimes, but more often than not, people were just interested in catching up with each other. They just wanted a bit of human companionship. So they usually came in and set a spell. And if they did not come in for a chat, they would stand outside a-visitin’ way longer than they had intended. Sometimes, they even came inside after standing around visitin’. It was just the way things were.

Today, people do not have time to visit. Instead, they poke around on Facebook just being voyeurs or updating their statuses on Twitter so that others can peek at them. It is great fun to do and it can create a digital community, but it is not the same as settin’ around visitin’.

I am reminded of this whenever I go to visit my parents.

Mom and Dad are not farmers anymore. They were part of a generation who headed off to the universities to make a better life for their families. Their parents wanted them to be more than farmers and not have to toil and sweat so hard working the land. Still, Mom and Dad are the kind of people who people still come to set and visit.

(By the way, I do know that using “set” in this case is incorrect English, but it does make sense. When you sit, you set your bottom on the chair. Which is probably where the misused term “set a spell” comes from. Or if not, it sounds likely enough. Besides, it is a more interesting explanation than people mispronouncing sit with set.)

Like I said, I am reminded of this phenomenon of settin’ and visitin’ every time I visit the folks. And this last time was no exception. Not only did we kids sit around with Mom and Dad at the dinner table long after any meal was over, people came a-visitin’ a time or two. On at least a couple days of our stay, we sat at the table chatting for hours.

I am not sure why settin’ and visitin’ is a lost art. Maybe it is because we are too busy. Maybe it is because people have moved away from being a nuclear family – few people live near where they grew up anymore. Maybe it is because we are too busy with Facebook and Twitter or other social media. Or maybe it is because people do not drink drip coffee anymore. Whatever the reason, people seem less inclined to talk to their neighbors who live next door than to their friends across the country. We do not seem to have much time for face-to-face interaction. For seeing each other IRL.

Or maybe it is just me. Maybe I sit in my hole and do not get out much. Maybe I am too busy doing nothing to go out and see what others are doing. Maybe I am the one who has forgotten the art of settin’ and visitin’.

I am not sure I am cut out for the simple life, but sometimes I think it is what I need. I need to just get off the internet and get out the door. Not to just fill my schedule. But to just go a-visitin’. And when I am not out visitin’, I hope people feel free to just drop by to set a spell. Maybe we will find out that settin’ and visitin’ is not such a lost art after all.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Divebombed · 18 July 2015

The Birds movie poster
This work is in the public domain.

Divebombing may seem like an outdated form of aggression, but it seems birds still use it.

I was running the other day and got divebombed by a couple robins. These birds were screaming and doing strafing runs. If they had had ammunition, I would have been seriously pelted. They did not get close enough to peck my eyes out or anything like the Hitchcock movie, The Birds, (besides, they were robins not crows or gulls) but they kept coming at me while I was in this one area. I did not realize what was happening until I left that area and thought about the incident.

When I was running along the road, I saw a small bird sitting there. I did not think anything of it because birds are often on the ground doing something, and they usually fly away when somebody approaches. This little bird had its feathers fluffed up and just sat there until I was right next to it. Then, it screamed and flew a short distance into the trees. Not into the branches, but over to the ground in the treed area.

As soon as the screaming started, others joined in. I thought there were hordes of beasties joining in the cacophony (which was like The Birds). That was when the divebombing commenced.

“Red leader, you are clear for your strafing run.”
“Roger that. Commencing strafing. Red team follow my lead.”
“You may fire at will.”
“Roger. Fire at will.”

I had no idea what was happening, but I knew I had to get out of there with birds flying around my head. If I had been on flat ground, I would have screamed, flailed my arms wildly at the birds, and gotten out of there fast, but I was going downhill when I met the birds and uphill when they were strafing me. They seemed awfully close when it happened, but I was concentrating on breathing and getting up the hill rather than their proximity to my head. Besides, I had no visions of birds attacking people in cars or phone booths at the time.

After I got out from beneath the birds’ air space, the attacks stopped. The robins had successfully driven the intruder out of their area.

I did not think about myself being an intruder until after the whole episode was finished. That was when I realized that the bird on the ground was just a little robin. Its parents had probably had enough of it and kicked it out of the nest. It glided down and was resting when I saw it. Then, when I got too close, it tested its wings getting to the tree line and screamed for mama and papa. I never knew birds could be so protective, but I am sure those parents were the ones who were divebombing me. When I looked up, I realized that there were only one or two birds trying to strafe or bomb me. There might have been backups in the woods screaming for my head, but there were few attackers.

I did not really think about The Birds until I started to recount the episode on paper, but I do remember thinking about Robin, Batman’s sidekick.

Most people think of Robins as pretty tame. Especially, when compared to bats. I have heard people wonder why it was that Robin was clad in this bright yellow and red outfit which would stand out night or day while Batman has always worn black to blend into the shadows. These critics said that Robin was merely a target to direct the bad guys’ attention from Batman.

I would have agreed with them before my incident with the divebombers. I would have said that Robin was surely named and dressed incompatibly with his mentor, Batman. After all, we usually think of robins as those early birds getting the worms. But Batman got it right. Robins can surely be ferocious. Especially when defending their turf. Or protecting their young.

Regardless of whether I think of the movies or comic books when I think of robins, I will always steer clear of any little birds on the ground. After all, divebombing may certainly be an outmoded form of aggression, but take it from me, birds still use it on people.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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