For the past month, I have been throwing myself into boxing as a release from being constantly hunched over a computer or drawing. Boxing has reacquainted me with my instincts and encouraged me to trust my dogged preparation.
(Yes, this is a metaphor for my preparation for the 13/13/13 Sketchbook Project. If you’re rolling your eyes already, my apologies.)
Full confidence in the ring only comes with trained muscle memory. Muscles need to know how to move reflexively rather than consciously. All that requires is time and dedication.
That’s why I workout on my own every day. I run stairs in front of the house and shadowbox in the porch. I jumprope and throw the same punches overandoverandoverandover.
(My neighbors just look at me funny and continue walking by.)
And when I’m tired, when my legs are jelly and my shoulders are burning, I keep on going. Like Lisa tells me, “You’re not tired.”
(When she’s feeling like a smart aleck, she also says “you’re fine” with every punch she throws at my head.)
On sparring day, after warming up, those centering moments right before the bell are beautiful and precious. Wrapping my hands, pulling on my headgear and gloves, shifting my weight in my shoes, feeling the ground underneath me, shaking my arms to loosen my shoulders, gnawing on my mouthguard. Trusting I have done everything I could to give myself the best chances and knowing that anything is possible.
As creative individuals, in those quiet moments before a big breakthrough, we may sometimes panic, fearing that our instincts are unsafe or taboo or arduous. But remember, you don’t have to consciously know what the next move is. If you hone your craft every day, then your instincts will be those of a strong and centered artist.
For today, practice your craft. And do it again tomorrow. Overandoverandover. And when your instincts flare up with an idea for a new project or lifestyle shift or new technique or potential collaboration, roll with it.
Once the bell rings, if we allow our creative instincts to autopilot, then we will find ourselves capable of more than we ever imagined.
Dedicated to my awesome Wednesday sparring partners: Alex, Lisa Creech Bledsoe , and Jonathan.