Chase the ugly away

You are my sunshine

(iPhone photo #42 in my 2012 365+1 project)

I’ve been reading the biography of Steve Jobs lately. It’s a fascinating story and one I couldn’t possibly respond to in one sitting, but today I ran across something that I wanted to share. When Steve Jobs was working on a deal with U2 to collaborate with Apple and iTunes, at one point Bono said, “The job of art is to chase the ugly away.”

Isn’t that what we all spend our days doing, whether through art or some other means? Every day is a whole new struggle to chase a little bit of ugly away.

I’ve been trying to chase the ugliness of feeling anxious and overwhelmed away by exercising more. It works when it works. Sometimes — like when I have blisters on my feet, or it rains one day and turn bitter cold the next — the exercise itself becomes part of the burden.

Still, you either have to get up every day believing you will find some beauty, or you have to give up, crawl under the bed and stay there until someone comes to cart you off to the state mental hospital. That’s why I prefer walking outside even when it is cold over any other kind of exercise. You are much more likely to surprise yourself with something that truly chases away some ugly if you just step out your front door.

I don’t know how most people keep from being overwhelmed by life. I imagine they might do it by a combination of medications and giving up on the idea that they can do everything they set out to do. I’m not a big believer in medications. I don’t mind if other people take them. I just don’t like to take them myself. It’s sort of like my approach to being a vegetarian. I have no opinion on whether you eat the bacon. I only have preferences to avoid it myself.

In lieu of taking something to alleviate my anxiety, then, I am forcing myself out the door every day in search moments that chase away the ugly.

It works when it works. Usually, if I’m able to get in a good walk of three miles or more, I reach a point where whatever is bothering me no longer seems so important.

Thus, my first rule of chasing away the ugly without taking medications is to just walk away from worrying about it.

My second rule is to wear two pairs of socks. That will help keep you from getting blisters. This I learned the old-fashioned way by walking around with blisters for a week.

I have more rules, but these are enough for now. Today I walked three miles, and I napped for three hours. It might be time to make up a resolution about getting enough sleep throughout the week, but for now I’m just going to say I’m instead pondering a rule about embracing the beauty of a good collapse whenever you can get away with it. And don’t forget to wear two pairs of socks. Keeping your feet warm while you sleep helps your circulation (maybe…I may have just made that up).