Our capacity to find value even in the dark moments might be the sole reason we are able to keep taking steps. – x
Life is easy with a cup of coffee in your hand and a sunrise on your face. If you have both and find your heart isn’t it peace, stop overthinking and start paying attention to the essential truth: this will be over before you’re ready. – x.
PS Here comes the literal rain, one way or another.
As many successes as I’ve had in the last year, I’ve also had a few defeats. I’m absolutely not the person to conceal any of that from anyone who knows me. Being proud of my successes in no way conceals or denies the failures. At my age, I’ve peeked behind the curtains of so many lives that I understand better than ever that most of us aren’t following the playbook we imagined. More importantly, the shiny lives that you witness all have a stained glass window in their bathroom. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, it describes the way that mundane life intersects violently with the things we hold essential in our hearts – and the problems that living present. If you’re human, you’re going to experience the same problems that other humans share, even if we don’t see them. It’s easy to observe the world and people around us and deceive ourselves into not believing that what binds us shares more in common than what separates us.
PS: Only in East Springdale can you have a crazy neighbor shooting bb pellets at your house (and arrows) while drinking. At 9 a.m. on a Sunday, which is bonus-level typical East Springdale.
Thanks to the Blue Dress Project, I’ve been doing pushups since the beginning of the month. Not continuously, though. The world record for most pushups in a day is 46,001, while the record for non-stop is over 10,000. Keeping that in mind, don’t admonish me too angrily for doing this at my age. The record holder for most in a year was 45 when he completed over 1.5 million in one year. I’ll let you know if I decide to break his record. You can start holding your breath now.
I do them in increments or sets, whether I’m on the way to the bathroom, waiting by an elevator, walking, or going to the kitchen to get a bag of PopChips. I’ve had a few surprises while doing them in unusual places. While I might not drop and do twenty next to the open casket, for example, I don’t see what’s so weird about doing pushups while listening to someone complain about how much they are being overworked. What amuses me most is the idea of having someone in great shape do them continuously near the vending machine area to determine if their subtle presence decreases junk food sales.
I have to be cautious with my shoulder, of course. Technically speaking, the medical term for what I have is “Old & Busted.” I’ve noted that a couple of surgeons seem to be following me around at work while holding scalpels. It could be my imagination. I’ve been told mine is overactive.
There are days when I reach a surprisingly high number of repetitions.
I’m not promising I’ll do them long-term, but I will do them for six weeks, until they become a new habit that I can keep if I wish to. I made a deal with myself that pushups are an exercise I like, cost nothing, and require only time, of which I have an abundance. It’s stupid NOT to experiment. That’s pretty much my take on a lot of things anymore. Including mushrooms. The la-la land variety, not the kind one finds on pizzas. I’ll report back when I’ve tried mushrooms, assuming I’ll still be able to write English or speak in complete sentences at that point.
I don’t have a goal. Other than continuing to not drop dead, of course. It is a great goal, despite all the mortuary owners secretly hoping that a lot of people might have particularly bad days. It’s nothing personal. The odds are in their favor, though. Keep that in mind as you continue to not make changes you’d like to see in your health and life. No matter what you choose, keep it in mind – and not in a superficial way. Every important thing you put off, challenges included, could forever elude you based on today’s choices. It’s nuts, isn’t it? We trick ourselves into thinking we’re making small decisions or foregoing things of no consequence only to discover that we’ve sacrificed an opportunity that is gone forever.
Many days I just stop counting as I do the pushups. If I need to practice counting, I can count the years of my life remaining. For small numbers, I can count the remaining hair on my head.
A friend at work quotes one of his many ridiculous sports heroes by saying, “It doesn’t matter how many you do. You don’t start counting until it hurts.”
My response to him is this: “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”
I can feel a difference already. Not in my friend. He’s a musclehead.
If I had a sedentary job, I’d do 500 every day. Pushups, I mean. I’m not Wilt Chamberlain if that joke doesn’t fly over.
It’s true that a couple of people have mocked me for doing pushups. That kind of asshole is going to always find something to complain about. It doesn’t matter how I manage my life or what I do – there will be people who roll their eyes or want me to fail. Luckily, most people are great, and even if they don’t understand what the hell my point is, they play along, if only so that we can reciprocally overlook each other’s craziness.
This brings me back to the idea of incrementalism. You might not be able to do a pushup. But if you start slow and with a hint of enthusiasm, you can reach just about any goal you want to. You can learn a language by learning one word a day, walk a mile by focusing on reaching a little farther as your energy permits, or read a book a month by translating your interest into doing so into a plan that’s broken into bite-size increments. (No pun on the bite-size, by the way.)
Likewise, and just as important, if you’re happy with yourself, your life, or things about yourself, don’t get tricked into adapting because you think you should. You should be happy, and anyone who finds satisfaction in themselves has magical power.
PS: I’m rooting for Blue Dress Project to make the weight. I’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for people doing things that they’ve put off, or for finding success, no matter how large or small. If I can do it, anyone can.
You have to start small. But sometimes, you have to stop thinking and trust yourself. In my case, I know I’m an idiot. So worrying about s-t-a-r-t-i-n-g to think is a bit excessive.
Because I lost so much weight, I now get these ideas that seemed ridiculous to me before. Losing weight erased much of the sense I could fake and replaced it with a noted capacity for more what-could-go-wrong thinking.
One of my favorite places here has a couple of picnic tables. It’s not that they’re tall, but rather that they’re wide. (A problem I used to have personally, too.) So if you’re going to take a run and jump, you better be prepared to lunge with a wild enthusiasm that will clear you. Otherwise, you’re going to figure out what a somersault feels like, one with splinters and a broken head. (If you’re a masochist and reading this, it still isn’t advisable, so take note.)
This tendency to fail to jump with all your enthusiasm and effort is one of the biggest reasons so much goes wrong in life.
Yesterday, without any preparation, I cleared my head of reason and restraint and ran ten steps… and jumped. To my horror, I cleared the table. Today, I walked around to gauge the logistics of the other table. Instead, I took off running and hurdled it like an ice cream buffet on weigh-in day. I landed a foot further than I needed. I applauded myself like I had brain damage and took a bow.
As I sat on the bench of the picnic table, rubbing my victory in, so to speak, a woman came around the side of the building. She had watched my jump from the vantage of one of the many windows along the back, unbeknownst to me.
“But can you jump the table lengthwise?” she asked.
Although I wasn’t sure I would be able to, I knew that I could, if conditions were perfect. And if they weren’t, at least the witness would have a great story to tell, the one about the middle-aged nutcase jumping a picnic table lengthwise.
The table in question wasn’t much longer than its length. In any case, I’ve lived a good life. I jumped up and turned. Just as I was about to run and jump (or try to), the woman said, “NO! I didn’t mean for you to try it!”
I laughed. I didn’t attempt the jump. Not today, anyway. I’ll call Blue Cross and ask a couple of questions. And reconsider my options tomorrow.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have tried to jump a picnic table. Now, I see metaphorical picnic tables everywhere.
It was 90+ outside, so it seemed reasonable to take a walk on the hot sidewalks and streets at 3 in the afternoon, especially since I was still dressed in black. Since I’ve been experimenting with various incarnations of chalk, today I carried a stick of very light lime green on this walk. In the event of heat stroke, I could at least scrawl out a last message as I melted on the sidewalk: “I’m a dumbass” would probably cover it. It’s not poetry, but it’s accurate, much in the same way that Luke Bryan is singing, but it wouldn’t necessarily fall into the category of ‘music.’
I went inside to get an unsweetened tea to drink on my way back. I knelt with my back against the sun and wrote “TODAY” on the sidewalk in front of the store. The very light lime green brilliantly contrasted with the shadow created by my profile against the blistering sun. I noted that the pale green seemed to morph into blue against the shadow.
“Hey, what’cha doing?” a voice asked as I stood up. A 20-something man was the source of the voice. He was, of course, smoking. But definitely not smoking hot or smoldering with a hidden intelligence. Walgreens is the Walmart of the pharmacy world.
“Making art,” I said, keeping my face impassive and stoic.
“It looks like you’re writing with chalk to me,” he said.
“Art is the convergence of the mundane with the sublime, dude.” I laughed. I waited for him to retort in reply, as I’m nothing if not courteous.
I walked away as I put my chalk back into my front pocket, possibly in an attempt to entice people to coyishly inquire if I was happy to see them or if I had a stick of chalk in my pocket. Being curious-minded, I did ponder how many adults in Springdale had chalk in their pocket at that exact moment.
Because of the success of the color of chalk, I wrote a poem, one and two words at a time, stretching for over a mile. Above me, the sun did its best to erase my enthusiasm for the task. It amused me to know that it would be challenging to read the poem back in the order I wrote it.
And though the thing I described as art is transitory and fleeting, I suspect I’ll remember the moment. I hope the smoking young man remembers it too, trying to figure out if he had witnessed something ridiculous or sublime. It’s all in the eye of the beholder; art, love, stolen moments in the hot sun.
If you’re reading this, I’m talking to you.
I hope your today had a chalky moment too.
For every divine moment that can be experienced…
Literally, it was a sign
But it was also a metaphor
I heard its message and felt its truth
So much of who we are is a choice
Sometimes a terrible one, at times easy
I am imperfection rendered
That must be enough
Pithy quote for Monday…
“You’re going to run out of time. Die with memories. Not dreams.”
A fulfilled life in monochrome surpasses a fantasy in Kodachrome.
The third line of the above is my addition…
Someone smart asked me in all seriousness, “If life is so short, why do you persist in doing so many things you don’t like? Is it that you don’t like life or that you don’t like yourself? You’re losing a little bit of both each time you do it.” Of course, I pithily answered back and received this barb: “An occasional compromise is totally normal, of course, because so much of life is doing exactly that, but why would you let another person frequently put you in the position of using the finite minutes you’ve been given doing things you don’t like to do.? That’s not their issue – it is yours. And the longer you wait to learn how to get out of this sort of thing is more of your life flying past. It’s gone forever.”