The musings of a fantasy illustrator. Artwork, art-talk, and randomness.
back in high school and into college i was a voracious reader. i still read a decent amount but not nearly at the rate i used to, and not the same sorts of things, by-and-large. i was also the sort who would keep everything i read, on shelves. so i had tons of paperback and hardcover novels and the like sitting there. i wasn’t going to re-read most of them ever so eventually i took them all to the used book store, got my 30 cents credit or whatever for the entire lot, and cleared the space out. after grabbing some more books.
what surprised me was looking at the books, all in boxes just prior to the great trade-in, and realizing as i looked over them that i had almost no clue what most of them were about anymore. what a frightening revelation. i’d pick up a novel, look over the cover and could, if i was lucky, tell you the main characters’ names. for some books i could tell you a general plot-point but no characters. or maybe the theme. where did all that information go? certainly there were some memorable books whose details i could remember quite well. but it was shocking to see that much information slip away from my conscious reach.
i say conscious reach because if i flipped open most of those books and just started reading, it would unlock the file cabinet in my brain and release the memories. but until then, many of those books were in forgotten rooms in my head, full of cobwebs. i assume that many good things were retained in a more suffused way—the way streams join but you can’t tell what water came from which tributary when it all becomes the winding thames. language, thoughts, emotions—surely these have been subtly shaped by all i’ve read. but the facts, they’ve been filed away. some of them, they were never filed to begin with. the words passed before my eyes, the details remained long enough to finish the book and were subsequently tossed like so many post-its when finished, and my mind didn’t complain.
since then i’ve estimated that i actively retain only about 5-10% of everything i read. it’s a worthwhile thing to identify and know for me. it means that i need to digest that much more information if i want to retain it long-term.
12/24/2005: the date i started jogging again after a 7 month break. before the break i was jogging, max, 2 miles per session as i had only run for 1.5 months at that time.
1: the number of miles i started with in december, roughly 5.5 months ago.
36: the average temperature, fahrenheit, for most of my runs.
20: the average wind speed, in mph. helpful at your back, but it always seemed to turn to oppose me.
5/6/06: date of my last run in
4.25: miles run on each run by the above date.
8: miles run on my last run day above.
10: minutes per mile over the 8 miles. not great, not terrible.
i have never in my life run more than maybe 3 miles, and that was when i was running back in ’93. so getting to 4.25 miles as an average run was quite an accomplishment for me, especially given the slight slopes along the path i ran on. when i started i had the crazy idea of being able to run the 8 miles from our village of north cerney to the town of cirencester along a 2-lane country road called “the white way” by the time i left
by the end i was running just over half the full goal-distance on a regular basis. a fellow i used to work with who ran races told me that you should be able to push your body to twice your training distance even if you hadn’t trained at that longer distance. so, trusting that piece of advice i went for it anyway, prepared to walk much of the way home. but that final run went fine. a capri sun in my pocket helped. i was pretty sore the next day but had scheduled a few days of rest before figuring out my next running goal, in new environs.