Creating Space

Food photo props in my apartment.Lately, I've been struggling with space. Finding enough.

Apartment space.

Work space.

Physical space.

Social space.

Creative space.

Mental space.

Everything seems to be lying on top of each other—all around and in my head. If I shift something over to make room for something else, I'll knock over a bike or step (yes, step) on a plate. Or, more dangerously,  all my ideas will come loose and bounce all over my brain like one of the 70's toy poppers:

Not good.

I had a biking accident a few weeks ago in the New York City Triathlon. One minute I was pedaling my heart out, pushing as hard as I could downhill in the pouring rain. No fear.

In an instant, I was on my side, skidding down yards of badly paved Henry Hudson Parkway and coming to an unspectacular (asp)halt in a puddle somewhere in the Bronx, my bike skittering sadly a few feet ahead of me.

I stood up and immediately began to cry. And not the owy-I-have-a-boo-boo type of crying. The kind when you're gasping for breath and practically screaming or coughing or dry-heaving or all three because your poor brain can't process what's come before. Or what will happen after.

Snap. A pure break in time.


And in that space, there's a regrouping. An honest mental assessment of what's going on and what needs to happen next.

I was asked my roadside assistance if I needed an ambulance. I said yes. When none showed up, I got back on my bike (which is fine, as I broke it's fall), and pedaled back to transition at 79th street.

I decided in that instant that I got back on my bike that what I really wanted to do was finish the race. In whatever fashion I could manage, even if it meant — GASP! — walking.

My original plan was not going to pan out.

I got to transition, put on my running shoes and walked up the steep hill to 72nd street. On 72nd I started to jog and met cheering friends, family member and teammates. I heard my dad shout, "We love you!"

I started to run faster and I finished the race running. It wasn't glamorous. In fact, it was a little gross. And slow. It made me think about every step I took and if I really wanted to take another.

No one would have questioned my decision to get into an ambulance (should one have showed up). Or stop running. But in the new plan (made somewhere around 250th Street), I was just dealing with the moment. The intention changed from running to the finish line (which is always moving, folks, not to get too philosophical on you but...) to running here. Now. And being ok with where I am, which at the time was a little banged up and bloody.

Vertical running!Since then, I've been trying to slow down. If only in my head. I fight it a lot. I'm a doer—I like getting things done. Races, work, food shopping, whatever, it feels good to cross things off the list. But the thing is, there will always be more things on the list.

I've been trying to shift those things over and create space for...

...dinosaur moments.

You read about them first here. For me, these little Paleolithic plastic toys create little moments in which I can creatively play. And as my photographer friend Steve says, these little moments are where the big ideas come from.

Sometimes there are tacos involved.

So I'm trying to create space for more dinosaur moments, and reframe this mental headspace a bit.

There are risks we take every day — and not just the ones that potentially involve falling off self-propelled vehicles. You can put your whole heart and mind and energy into a single effort only to fail spectacularly and literally in front of an audience.

And that's ok. But if you can pick yourself up, reframe it, and keep going after that, you've already won.