“Get Up! Begin Your Day!”

I’m a gym person.

I have been for thirty years.

I go early.

Ridiculously early.

Twyla Tharp does too. Here she is from The Creative Habit:

Choreographer Twyla Tharp begins her day at the gym

I begin each day of my life with a ritual. I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and the weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.

What we’re talking about here is Resistance.

Not Resistance to physical exercise.

Resistance to our artistic calling.

Twyla Tharp does her lunges and stretches for their own sake, yes. But they are also (and more importantly), as she says, a ritual.

They are preparation for the moment when she arrives at her dance studio and faces the choreographer’s equivalent of the blank page.

Her time at the gym is rehearsal for that moment.

It’s practice.

It’s preparation.

If you saw me in the squat rack at Gold’s Gym in Venice at five-thirty in the morning you might think, “Why is that guy busting his butt? He’s not gonna be running the marathon. What could he possibly be thinking? He ain’t gonna be starting next season for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.”

Like Twyla, I am enacting a ritual.

I am rehearsing doing something I don’t want to do.

I’m rehearsing doing something I’m afraid of.

I’m rehearsing doing something that hurts.

When I hit the showers after my workout, I feel good. I’m proud of myself. I have faced another dawn when I could have lain in bed or blown off my journey or given in to some vice or distraction.

But I didn’t.

I have performed my ritual.

I have gotten my day started.

I have momentum now.

I can meet my buddies for breakfast, shoot the breeze for a while, then go home and get to work.