Of the reasons I have been unable to post much in last months is because I am involved in 2 kinds of marathons, or “rather large tasks” as it could be put. They each share some similarities with long distance ultra running and I wanted to offer them as examples here as a small encouragement to those I have taught who sometimes feel o so small at the base of mountain when the peek seems unreachable; or half way up when the little voices in the head start whispering that it is better to turn back. I think we have all been there in some way. Now that peak could be a certain musical goal of something special on this Saxophone or anything conceivable. In my particular case at the moment these are a) completing my complete recording of Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” and b) learning the Serbian language at a point in my life when my head is already a veritable insalata mista of languages.

What do these particular undertakings have in common with ultra marathon running and what little gems of wisdom can I offer others engaging their own personal mountains?

– Nike, always Nike: Just do it.
– Chip away at the block, a little each day. Keep the momentum. Keep going.
– Glance up at that distant peak once in a while, but basically just watch the ground in front of you.
– Keep shoulders relaxed and breath steady.
– You will go from feeling like superman to feeling like a piece of turd in a moment. Just roll with it.
– Make pain your friend, this gives you a reliable running partner at your side.
– When the nagging voices in your head come, and come they will, the ones that tell you you are crazy, you should turn back, you’ll never make it, just breath through them. They will disappear like passing clouds. ( by the way they are a left-brain thing and a bit of cerebral knowledge can help to banish them)
– The dragons to be slain in the hero fables of old are your own mind- but you surely know that, n’est pas?
– Once you finish this madness, you are going to want more, I guarantee you. A bit of healthy pain can become addictive.

For me this means now diving into 600 odd pages of labyrinths like this:


“Eins within a space and a wearywide space it wast ere wohned a Mookse. The onesomeness wast alltolonely, archunsitslike, broady oval, and a Mookse he would a walking go (My hood! cries Antony Romeo), so one grandsumer evening, after a great morning and his good supper of gammon and spittish, having flabelled his eyes, pilleoled his nostrils, vacticanated his ears and palliumed his throats, he put on his impermeable, seized his im- pugnable, harped on his crown and stepped out of his immobile De Rure Albo (socolled becauld it was chalkfull of masterplasters and had borgeously letout gardens strown with cascadas, pinta- costecas, horthoducts and currycombs) and set off from Luds- town a spasso to see how badness was badness in the weirdest of all pensible ways.”

And then deciphering sentences like this:

So go on. Prove them voices wrong. Slay them dragons. Test what is means exactly to be human now on this good earth.