What Are You Going To Do With It? Part One
Early in June something odd happened to me on the way to work. To be honest, I’m not sure where it came from. I was driving down my normal route and while sitting at a red light I was practicing some awareness exercises. A thought or maybe a phrase or, well, I’m not sure what it was came into my head from literally nowhere; one statement and then a question.
“You’ve got a good 10 – 15 years left. What are you going to do with it?”
It was startling. I wanted to ask my wife, “Did you hear that?” It was very clear. Thinking back, I’m not sure of the source. If it came from my mind then it was proof positive your mind is not efficient nor interested in self-preservation because right afterwards I was so distracted I almost caused a car wreck! Aren’t these questions, situations, moments of enlightenment or whatever supposed to come while you are sitting quietly on a mountain or peacefully meditating in a woodland glen?
What a sobering thought. An intense boot to the head. I’m “that close” to 50 and though it sounds quite ego filled and born of a mid-life crisis, it actually was not. It had no sense of pressure, of hurry, of a rush to gain money or prestige. There was no panic (which I assume would happen if the Ego was involved.) I think it was the plain, non-emotional statement and question that impacted me so strongly. I sometimes wonder if it did come from some outside source or was it just some sort of poorly timed epiphany?
It was just a simple, non-judgmental question. “What are you going to do with it?”
I’ve spent much of the following weeks working over the question. It’s had a life changing effect on me to be sure. I’ve come up with a few things. Some are personal, others are more public. What I am planning to do is to start writing about them here and using the blog to help keep track of the progress along the way.
First up on the answer list to the question from nowhere?
I want to not only get back in shape and be strong but to surpass anything from my past.
I’ve always been athletic. I also suffer from one too many concussions. This is what happens when you are freakishly tall and a bit of a daredevil. After my last bad head hit in 2000, I suffered for a long time from post-concussion syndrome. For several years, most physical activity was out of the question. Playing sports, jogging, etc was just not a good idea. Even now, though I can take the occasional bump or tap, I have to be careful about hard bonks to the noggin. Anything that jarred me too much would bring on a headache, sensitivity to light, dizziness. It was a pain. I remember taking my oldest son out to shoot around with a basketball. Even that caused me to wear sunglasses indoors the next day. As you may guess, my activity dropped considerably.
Last year I had started to do some trial running with good results and enjoyed an occasional run. Otherwise, that was it. Last summer, I suffered a shoulder injury and had serious pain and reduction in mobility. A month ago I couldn’t even raise my left arm over my head higher than shoulder height. In addition, I work a desk job and had developed something I call a “tall man stomach.” When I was younger I saw a taller man with an overly developed paunch and gave it that label. Right afterwards I vowed never to have one. Yet, here I was looking at one in the mirror. What was I going to do about it?
After my little esoteric experience mentioned at the beginning, I decided enough was enough. I had to admit I had been making far too many excuses. I was once told there are excuses and there are reasons. Reasons are valid. Excuses are not. The trick is determining one from the other! The concussion and shoulder injury? Reasons. Reasons to be careful, reasons to be wise. Choosing not to ride a roller-coaster at a theme park because of my concussion issues? Reason. Being too tired after a normal day of work and sitting down at a computer game after dinner? Excuse. Not going to the gym or doing anything at all because my shoulder was a little sore? Excuse.
I realized that in many ways I had been letting the past dictate my excuses for far too long. Growing up as a lanky, string-bean kind of kid who loved superheroes I had a long standing dream of having a strong, muscled form. How many times had I looked at my dream of who I wanted to be and opted not to push for it? (Ok, if anything, I have to admit there is a bit of mid-life crisis in there. At least I’m making good choices with it, right?) I wanted to be strong for my family, my wife, my kids. I wanted to be ready should a situation demand strength and endurance from me.
When I make changes like this I prefer to start slow. Last year, when I started running again I was doing more walking than running. I’d walk and when I felt like it, I’d jog. I’d do this until I wanted to walk again. Wash, rinse, repeat. I still do this when I hit the trail. However, I’ve gone from wheezing through .8 miles to doing almost 2.8. (And to think, at the height of my fitness as a basketball player in high school, I couldn’t even run a full mile! Different bodies, different times!)
For initial strength, I opted for yoga. As I get older yoga appeals to me. I wanted something that was steady, slow and powerful. I decided I would do just a little bit, focusing on my bum shoulder, and see what happened. Every morning I got up and did downward facing dog for as many breaths as possible, then a plank and then Warrior 1. Then, I sat in stillness for 5 or 10 minutes. Within a few days I noticed that my left shoulder was working better. I started running again, twice a week. Within two weeks I noticed things getting more and more comfortable. Recently, I had my first real session working out in our apartment complex’s weight room. When I look in the mirror, I’m starting to see changes, changes that I am very happy about.
As I’ve been working on and editing this post, there have been new developments. I will talk about those in Part Two. It would appear I’ve stepped on to a particular pathway I would have never seen coming.
All from a random thought/inspiration at a stop light.
At least I can say that I have an answer to the question.