1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end; to devise a process for homogenizing milk
2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner; the process of decay (from dictionary.com)
As a football and baseball player in high school and college, I enjoyed the pre-season and off-season workouts as much as, if not more than, the season itself. Even during the season, I got as giddy about the thought of heading to practice and workouts every day as I did about taking the field in uniform, in front of a crowd, on game day.
I loved being a student-athlete at Augustana College and spending time working with the student newspaper (the Observer), tirelessly - and sometimes tiredly - spending hours working on projects and assignments as deadlines loomed, neared and passed.
Since college, while pursuing a passion for endurance athletics, it is the hours and miles of training that take up my time and that I love most. Even on the rare occasions that I do get to race, it is not the end-point, the finish line, that I most enjoy, but the miles and minutes that are covered and experienced between the start and finish.
In short, while I enjoy having these deadlines, these finish lines to look forward to, I get the most joy out of putting in the effort that is required to reach them. It is this mentality that I have permanently embedded on my right thigh in the words “Somewhere in the Between” on surrounding a footprint with a running figure inside. The line is from a Streetlight Manifesto song of the same name: “So you were born/And that was a good day/Someday you’ll die/And that is a shame/But somewhere in the between/Was a life of which we all dream/And nothing and no one will ever take that away.”
While training, or while working on big projects and tackling heavy workloads, I’ve often taken a moment in solitude - sometimes in the middle of a long run, sometimes while beating my head against a desk because I can’t get a sentence I’m writing to sound just right - and wonder what the point of spending so much time and effort on these end-points is? And I always come back to the same thing: It’s the process of working towards something, while the work is still in progress and we are trying to figure out how to best reach the end-point, that we learn the most about ourselves.
It’s in the process that we have these A-HA MOMENTS that teach us a valuable lesson and make that end-point possible and so much more satisfying. I realize and appreciate the value in reaching the final destination; it motivates us, allows us to reach for something. Once we reach it, we can look back, evaluate what we did to get there, and adjust accordingly for the future. However, perhaps it’s better to look at each of these finish lines as waypoints. Unless we are going to use what we have learned in the process of reaching that point and apply it to future endeavors, there is not much to be gained from each end-point, and they are just that - AN END.
I’ve been thinking a lot about process during first six weeks as a graphic design student at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) in Denver. For a better part of the four years I spent working in sports information offices, the idea that I might go back to get some sort of degree or certificate in graphic design has been on my mind. While working on various projects at Central College of Iowa with our graphic and web designers, the artistic side of things began to truly appeal to me.
By the time I started by second year in sports info at Adams State, the design side of the job was about all that was left that really appealed to me, so I started seriously looking into a return to school. At first I thought an on-line program might be a good fit. I’ve had some decent skills in PhotoShop and InDesign, and just felt that honing those skills would serve me well. But as the appeal of design continued to build for me, and I saw the rise of a former high school classmate Kenny “OneVibe” Vidinich, it dawned on me that I didn’t need to just learn more about how to use graphic design software and how to put together shapes on a page and coordinate colors. What I needed was to learn the process that artists and designers go through in completing projects. During my years as student-athlete I learned the process of writing and the process of preparing for games. I applied what I learned in those processes to my post-collegiate endurance sports endeavors and in my work in sports information, so why would working in art + design require any less need to learn about the process related to those projects?
Even having come to this realization it was terrifying to think about jumping back into being a full-time student and starting from square one as a freshman and working towards another Bachelor’s degree. Thankfully, Melissa and my family have been nothing but tremendously supportive as I take out loans and work a pair of part-time jobs while jumping back into student-hood.
After just six weeks I feel confident that this was the right decision for me. I am becoming engulfed in the process of art + design and loving every painstaking minute of it. Before, art + design projects frustrated me because I had this feeling that if you were any good at it, it should come to you without effort. Already I’ve learned my assumptions were way off. While it comes more naturally to some, it can be learned if you are willing and ready to jump outside of your comfort zone. Going out of my comfort zone is something I enjoy and look forward to, and I think it’s helped my transition into a world centered around art + design rather than one that just allows for some work in art + design as sports info did.
I’ll illustrate this briefly. The first few weeks of my classwork I found myself engulfed in the readings and class discussions much the same way that I was when I studied English and speech communications at Augustana. Completing a couple hundred pages of reading and writing a paper or two every week still comes easy to me, and I still enjoy it. I know the process well. The first few weeks at RMCAD though, I found that I was putting off the drawing and designing portion of my work because I was intimidated by it; I couldn’t think of what to do and the ideas that came to me seemed pathetic and uninspired. I was so nervous that I was going to turn in would give away that I had no business being here and I was an impostor. But I’ve actively worked to change that, squeezing every bit of advice and knowledge I can out of an impressively talented and intelligent group of professors who are more than willing to provide feedback on the smallest of projects and help me develop ideas. I’m already getting to the point where it’s the drawing, painting and designing assignments that I want to devote my time to, but have to pull myself back a bit in order to make sure I get all the other work done to. I feel a great balance between my studying the history and elements of art + design and my practicing of art. I’m feeling a connection to the process that breeds ideas and allows me to develop the skills.
There is a lot about me that I know is leading me towards success at RMCAD. As a returning student I have a great sense of where I’ve been and where I now want to go as a person and as a professional. Funding my own education I have an incredible appreciation for the resources at my disposal and the opportunities for learning. Melissa and those close to me provide the best support group I could imagine having. And, of course, an appreciation for the process and the obstacles that need to be overcome and learned from along the way.