Beartooth, Central Park, Niagara Falls, Sunset Bay + Italy's Chianti region
Settle in, we've got your Sunday taken care of
Good morning, friends! ☀️
Recently, I got together over Zoom with a couple of other newsletter writers who also publish their work on Substack and whom I’ve become friendly with, who graciously agreed to share what they’ve learned and how they’re managing their publications.
One of the things that stuck with me from our conversation is, no matter how many years you’ve been doing it, we all agreed writing anything for an audience is always hard, every time. You second-guess yourself, you wonder, “am I just way out on a limb here by myself?” You ask yourself, “do I really have anything to say at all?”
You get over it, you get through it. You publish your work, and you see how readers respond — to me, writing has always felt like being a pitcher in baseball, except that you want the batter to connect with the ball. But the next time, those little fears always return.
This past week, I got out for my first run in a couple of weeks. I’d come down with the flu, and had a lot of day job and child care things to do as well, but overall I just hadn’t been able to make it happen. When I finally did, in my head I wondered, “can I really do this, or has my fitness level completely dropped back to zero?”
Well, maybe not to zero. But when you lay off for very long from anything that matters to you, there’s always a learning curve when you come back to it. That struck me too, as I was reading this amazing profile of Jerry Seinfeld from just over a decade ago in the New York Times Magazine.
At the time, the fame he won with his NBC sitcom had yet to fade, thanks to its ubiquity on cable in syndication and the fact that streaming TV had yet to arrive. He described what it was like to return to stand-up comedy after all the success he’d experienced, when you think it might be as easy as slipping on an old shoe. It… wasn’t:
For Seinfeld, whose worth Forbes estimated in 2010 to be $800 million, his touring regimen is a function not of financial necessity but rather of borderline monomania — a creative itch he can’t scratch. “I like money,” he says, “but it’s never been about the money.” Seinfeld will nurse a single joke for years, amending, abridging and reworking it incrementally, to get the thing just so. “It’s similar to calligraphy or samurai,” he says. “I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That’s it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it.”
When he can’t tinker, he grows anxious. “If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,” he said. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”
What was it that Aristotle (reportedly) said? “We are what we repeatedly do.” It’s a comfort, in a way, that it’s no easier for comedians or ancient Greek philosophers to master whatever it is we want to become good at. We just have to keep at it — and when we stumble, to get back up again.
As someone who stumbles repeatedly, it’s nice to know I’m in good company! I hope you have an amazing Sunday wherever you are in the world and get a great run in today — as always, keep in touch and let me know how your running/life is going.
Mercatale in Val di Pesa, Italy | Sunday, June 4, 2023
I know I keep describing certain races as “once in a lifetime,” but this truly is — a gorgeously scenic run through Italy’s Chianti region near Florence, along a route that runs past many of this wine-growing area’s most famous landmarks. You’ll run mostly on dirt roads, across vineyards and through the woods on a course made up of gently rolling, soft hills, past sights like the ancient Abbey of Badia a Passignano, the medieval village of Montefioralle, the castles at Verrazzano and Gabbiano, the Antinori cellars and the Greve at Chianti, a small village with art galleries, shops and restaurants, where you’ll want to spend more time while you’re there. The race offers an 11K, 21K and an “ultra trail” 45K, slightly longer than the standard 42K marathon distance.
€25 and up | Sign up here