Leaving work late one night, I spot the headlights of the approaching bus. If I sprint, I can catch it. No friggin way am I going to stand out in the dark at a freezing bus stop! Although I’m laden with full-length winter coat and a heavy knapsack and bags, and therefore run with the grace of a three-legged hippo (not to mention a strange rattling sound from deep within the bowels of my luggage), I go for it.
Even as a sedentary office worker, my day is full of mini-challenges. The morning of the day I ran to catch the bus, I had to tromp through several inches of snow to do a number of errands. Working on campus, I often find myself walking, climbing stairs, running to make appointments, and carrying loads of books.
At the gym it dawns on me how far our fitness practice has come from the demands of real life…
“Who am I?” is the question that most of us are really asking when we fret about challenge and change. I remain convinced that for most people, a chronic injury or illness is not spiritually debilitating primarily because of pain. In the majority of cases, the pain and lack of mobility is controllable and manageable, and does not dominate every waking moment of consciousness. Rather, the psychic blow comes from this damage to our identities, to our sense of ourselves as physically whole.
Those of us living in North America tend to be a bit smug about the quality of life we enjoy. Not to toot our own horn (ah hell, I’m gonna toot it good), but until 2001 Canada ranked consistently as the best place in the world to live according to the United Nations Quality of Life survey.
That North American smugness has recently been tested by various world events and our own shifting demographics. We are getting older, more sedentary, and sicker with illnesses of affluence that previous generations knew little of. Late summer’s hurricanes showed us the creaking, crumbling, moldy underbelly of the United States’ social infrastructure…
For many folks, September remains the psychological “start of a new year”. After all, most of us spent 15 to 20 years (or, in my case, even more, argh) living by the rhythms of the school year. Labour Day is past, we’re mentally off vacation, the days are cooler and our heads are clearer, and we’re ready to sharpen all our nice new pencils to write in our lovely empty ruled books. Now, the shocking true story of an evil mother who MAKES HER CHILDREN WALK TO SCHOOL!!
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious!
Raise your hand if you have trouble finding motivation to go to the gym.
Now raise your hand if you have trouble finding motivation to goof off, screw around, be silly, and have fun.
“I like those odds.” –Homer Simpson
Regular readers will recall from my last rant that there are nasty sciatica gremlins in my ass. Yes, my low back and hip are grumpy things at the moment, forcing me to do a little butt wiggle every time I get up from the couch, in order to try to remove my femoral condyle from my sphincter, or whatever the hell is actually wrong in there.
I started seeing a chiro.
“Aging is not for sissies.”
As I write this, I am in pain.
Something is strangling the sciatic nerve that runs through my hip and down my leg. When I stand up, I stumble with momentary weakness as the nerve responds to the change in spinal position. Instinctively I curl the leg, twisting it inward to protect it, like cradling a baby animal gently. It is literally a pain in the ass.
In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a jaded TV weatherman doomed to repeat the day’s events, over and over and over. He knows the future but is unable to do anything with it, until he makes major changes in his actions and his attitude.
Often when I speak to clients and trainees it is as if they too are stuck in their own Groundhog Day. They repeat the same negative patterns over and over without really learning anything or fundamentally re-evaluating why things did not work. They also look to external sources to tell them the future: a new “magic” diet or fitness plan, a new “guru”, a new celebrity shill, or a new product. They often feel that a new supplement is the groundhog that will control their future success. Or, perhaps they feel that genetics is the groundhog that predicts their failure. This occurs despite them often “knowing” the right thing to do. But as the saying goes, knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing at all.
Aside from chance or random events such as giant tidal waves, plagues of locusts, being discovered as the next supermodel on the New York subway system, or being hit in the cranium with a frozen mass discharged from an airplane’s bathroom 20,000 feet overhead, most of our future is well within our control…
Contemplating our excesses generally leads to a resolution to improve. Throwing up the previous night’s cerveza invariably leads to some kind of vow never to ingest alcohol again in between lying on the bathroom floor thinking how nice the cold tile feels against one’s face. But memories are short, and often we need to repeat our mistakes several times before we learn from them.
This is, of course, a time of year to make resolutions. And in about two days, the time of year to forget about them.
There are many reasons why resolutions fail…