Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Thought After Another

I started playing soccer in 5th grade.  After a couple years of fall rolling around and being completely out of shape, I came up with a plan.  When spring came – I would head up to the track at the high school, a couple of blocks away.  I would train.  I would run 50 meter sprints, 400 or 8000 meter jogs.  I would have a program.  I lay in my warm cozy bed envisioning how great this felt, running in the warm spring sun, getting in shape.  

So what happened?  Not only did I never stick with this vision enough to get in shape.  I actually don’t think I even tried it once.  I was reminded of this as I wanted to stop when I hit the first slight hill on my jog.  I had thought to myself day after day this week, “It is such beautiful weather to take a jog.”  But it didn’t motivate me to take one.   I knew I had my weekly run with my friend on Wed, so that would suffice.  Today my friend told me she was home sick.  Well, I would have to run alone.   I looked forward to the run.  The cool crisp air, the changing leaves, the expectation that I was going to run.  All of this together made it seem I shouldn’t want to give up 4 blocks in, at the first (and only) hill.  But give up is what I wanted to do.  “How is it that I keep going?” I asked myself.

After soccer season my junior year of high school, for the first time, I didn’t completely stop exercising.  I recorded a few exercise programs from my friend’s cable TV…and began exercising in the basement.  What was different that year from all the years before?

I don’t know.  

When I was 29 I stopped exercising again.  I still went over to a friend’s on most Sundays to do her arm/ab routine with her, but beyond that, I couldn’t manage anything else.  For a good 10 years exercise had been a part of my physical and mental health.  But suddenly I couldn’t muster enthusiasm for much of anything (camping, nature, travel), and exercise was included.   

I guess sometimes you have to completely let go of things before you can have them back.  I started playing soccer again a couple years later, in part, because I still had absolutely zero interest in jogging by myself and figured running at soccer would require much less motivation (which is still true).
“Success” and “failure” are such mysteries and I think there is a lot more to it than willpower.  It took me at least a third of my jog today before I wasn’t thinking about stopping and at least another third before I began enjoying myself.

I crossed paths with a couple high school boys jogging in the opposite direction, and then a few more, and then I realized it must be a cross country team.  The 7th or so young man that came by was alone and he gave me a sort of Namaste sign with his palms and a nod with his head.  All the others had completely ignored me and it completely caught me off guard.  It was so beautiful and unexpected (#1).  

I was thinking about all this as I ran and writing it in my head, I clearly had something to say today (#2).

I also finished re-memorizing The Vacation by Wendell Berry (#3) on my jog.  I plan on reciting it to a fellow volunteer at my monthly gig tomorrow.  He was telling me last week how he is taking a break from social media.  “I impulsively check it at stoplights and if you’d ask me what I looked at I couldn’t even tell you,” he said.  

We have a “get to know each” other question at the beginning of our volunteer shift and he had learned that day I liked poetry.  “Who are you enjoying right now?” he asked me.  I started telling him about Wendell Berry.  “I have the perfect poem for you.”  He wanted to look it up on his phone right away.  I said, “No, I used to have this poem memorized and it will be good incentive for me to get it back.”  I have too much respect for Mr. Berry and any copyright infringement to post it here, but it’s awesome.

#4 – My sister-in-law is a tango dancer.  I love watching her, however she isn’t very promotional about it.  I always go, but maybe I need to make it more clear that I really ENJOY going.  Anyway, I found out she has a performance in a couple weeks.  I’m going to the mini-retreat center run by some awesome Franciscan sisters that weekend, but I started thinking about how she never mentions her dance performances to my Dad and I bet he would enjoy going.  So I suggested it to her, she asked him and he’s going.

#5  - I've been listening to a few new Eckhart Tolle videos on line the past couple days.  This quote is from an longer (hour long talk).  I put a shorter link below on the same topic. 

“…To cultivate your ability, so to speak to be still.  Because the gadgets that we have, the Smartphones, the games, computers, bombard us continuously, and stimulate continuously the thinking mind.  It goes from one thing to another to another, emails, text messages, the phone ringing, Facebook, Twitter, everything demanding your immediate attention and then you go there.  You are at the mercy of these devises.  Well many people seem to be, and get addicted to the continuous constant stimulus.  You get pulled this way, that way, that way, never having any kind of stillness inside yourself, no inner space, just stuff, stuff without space. 

 And then of course, inevitably after a while, you feel depleted, and still you can’t stop and youngsters are finding it harder and harder to focus on anything for very long, more than a few seconds.  Because they’ve been conditioned to always look to the next thing.  They can never stay with anything for more than a few seconds.  And now they call it an illness that needs to be treated with drugs.  Attention deficit disorder.  What’s the answer?  Give them drugs.

So at this time, it is even more important to have this ability to be still.”  - Eckhart Tolle

Living exclusively in the realm of content/stuff

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