First Landing, First Time

Its been a while since my last genuine trail run. So the other day I took a trip out to Virginia Beach and the beautiful First Landing State Park.

This put me on the watch for
This put me on the watch for

Its a big place, a collection of trails cover 19 miles of swamp and dune. Its familiar, sandy, with white pines, and a salty smell. The hills are a bit shorter, and there are cyprus complete with two foot tall knees, and spider webs of fantasy-novel proportions. There are lots of my favorite birds out here in the giant estuary that is the tidewater, herons, egrets, kingfisher (I was recently astonished to see one on the north shore of long island where they’re pretty rare). I was pretty excited when I read about First Landing, so I got in my car and went over there.

The place has a feeling like a museum-park, or some of the beautifully manicured privately-maintained parks I’ve seen before. Under tall pine trees a large building labeled “Trail Center” stands next to a modest parking lot. Inside there are park staff manning an information desk, there are maps and pamphlets galore. This amount of pomp and circumstance is starting to unsettle me. But I quietly grab a trail map, and walk back out to my car to lace my shoes. It feels a bit more like I’ve come for a round of golf than out for a run, and I’m worried about the degree of solitude this place will provide. Still, its nice to have so much information before setting out into the woods somewhere I’ve never been before. I take a couple iPhone pictures of my map and plan a 6 mile loop. 

There is a strange feeling to the place, like some kind of Epcott of parkland, theme-park level planning and upkeep, but its just a bunch of trails through the woods. There is a main-drag, the longest trail in the park its flat and wide and perfect. There are benches every couple hundred yards and simple fitness equipment with signs explaining their use. I have been known to do pull-ups from tree branches, and this is getting a little bit homey. So I was very glad to see the name of the next trail on my planned loop on the bicycle-prohibiting fences that mark these smaller, hike-only trails. A hundred yards or so down this trail (The Kingfisher trail), I started to relax. It’s narrow, not quite single-track, but you’re in the woods. It’s not so flat, its not as well manicured, but it is still consistently marked by white blazes. I could get used to this.

Then the Kingfisher trail runs to a “T” at White Hill Lake trail, where there is a 6×6 signpost covered in square tiles marked with distances, and trail names. The tiles look almost as clean as my kitchen counters. This is amazing and bizarre to me. Gratefully I have only seen two other people since leaving the main trail about a mile ago. 

Two turns bends later, there’s an overlook, in one direction, reeds and swamp, and towering cyprus trees, a few hawks are circling. The salt hits the bottom of my tiring lungs and suddenly I’m home. But then I look west, and just over there across the creek, not 400 yards away, houses, all in a row. like they belonged there. I guess its not home yet. 

Still, its here, and I rounded out a long run among the trees and it brought me back to life that day. And for this I will not begrudge the Commonwealth of Virginia its state parks’ selection as the best in the land.


Letting it kill me…

I’ve been relaxing and decompressing after all the stress of my move and it seems wasn’t doing so hot. I picked up the TV remote and let it start to kill me.

The more I tried to decompress the more tightly I’m wound up. I decided to try and lay low, to just settle into my new place for a couple of weeks without going out much, without getting amped up about making too many contacts. This decision came as I noticed setting up house was expensive, and I could in fact be flat broke. So my last two weeks have been a lot of netflix and a few cocktails, more cookies than I care to mention, and all of this basically because I was just waiting for my first round of bills to come in. If I survived in good shape then I can be a bit more liberal with my time, I can hand out flyers that say, “I’M HERE! COME PLAY WITH ME!” And now that I know I’m not completely and totally broke, I feel… no different.

This of course is not at all genuinely surprising. This is really a moment when after getting a little burnt out on the stress of moving house (and having a place that is completely and totally my own for the first time) I’ve given in to my resistance. I’m nervous and uncomfortable in social situations with new people, and now there is more staked on that than usual because I’ve moved to this city so that I could start at least one major professionally creative endeavor. I have not been CREATING since I’ve come here, but having had this realization its time to fix it. 

Perhaps in a subconscious victory over my resistance (thats called jiu-sistance*), I have been wasting my time in progressively better ways over the last week or so. Reading more about business practices and marketing and being a creative than about congressional gridlock and wizards defeating daemons, sounds like a step in the right direction, but really its still kind of a cop out. Yeah, I have a lot of learning to do, and reading about people who were me not that long ago is a path to that. However, What do these people write about? Mistakes.

Mistakes. Mistakes. Mistakes. Does preparation yield mistakes? No. Although being ill-prepared can make them all the more spectacular. Does reading about other’s experience yield mistakes? No. Only action yields mistakes, and mistakes lead to learning. So its time to get creating. Its time to start making mistakes. Its time to start learning. Its time to pick up something I love and let it start killing me.

If you need a creative pick me up today, go read this from James Rhodes: 

If you’ve seen it before go read it again. If you haven’t seen it before and you don’t think you need that pick me up today, YOU ARE PROBABLY WRONG, read it NOW!

*jiu-sistance is a thing I made up to make myself feel better about my cleverly harnessing the intent and thrust of my creativity into high-level resistance and procrastination. Use it as you like.