I went for a run for the first time in ages yesterday. Nothing long – both in distance and in time. I made it nearly two miles. Don’t ask about the time – seriously, it was rough. I haven’t done anything that exerting since late February. Last summer, I was a running mad man – three to five times a week. I burned through a pair of shoes in less than three months. I’m finding all of my bones becoming stiff and less bendy from working at a desk; I intend to change this.
I’d justified the lack of a regimented exercise routine over the past few weeks quite rationally. My hour I’d normally spend alone with my thoughts running, I was now spending with my computer writing. I wasn’t around mall food, so there wasn’t an urgent need to stay in shape. My stress was considerably lower, so I had less need of the exertion.
There were drawbacks, though. I like to curl my legs underneath me while I sit on the couch. Doing this had been leaving me so sore that I stopped trying. I also have horrible posture, and like balling myself into as small a shape as my six-foot-four self can muster. The lower back stiffness from sitting in a chair had not favored this. Strangest of all to me, is that my legs and ankles had started hurting more since I stopped working on them every day.
Well, I had a “fuck-this-shit-o’clock” moment upon leaving work yesterday. If I’m going to be in pain anyway, god dammit, I’m going to put myself there. So, I ran in the evening. I’m normally a morning runner, and the searing cramp that hit my intestines halfway through reminded me of why. Bet your ass I kept pace for the remainder.
The running gave me some perspective, too. I see Rae doing her workouts damn near daily, and it hadn’t really clicked that she’s busting her ass. She’s found her plateau – what, five? Maybe, six times? –Yet, she just steps it up every time.
The run also reminded me I was working on this insane prime number theory. In order to keep my pace, I like breaking numbers. I’m not a mathematician by any stretch, but I do find calculus fun and exciting. I only had to fail the basic stuff, what, three times? So, yeah… I’m a dork. I watched a special about a scientist working out the necessary force for achieving escape velocity from an event horizon while jogging. I’ll give you a hint: there’s a LOT of zeroes. Dude must have had the same side cramps I had.
To bring this all around, I couldn’t put my thumb on what to write about today. I was going to write about people changing. See, I was raised around drug users. Some were even addicts. For the longest time, this left one impression firmly on me: People don’t change, they just become better liars.
But, living is changing. It’s growing, evolving, adapting; to be alive is to change. There is only ever one thing certain, and that’s nothing stays the same.
I have created a mighty vessel here. She’s a fine beast – easily eighty feet long, aged oak, and tarred for worthiness. There are two tall masts filling to the brim with the most brilliant, multi-colored sails you’ve ever seen. I would have gone with canvas, but, well – if you know me, you know what I’ve already done to my canvas. I love colors; monochromatic-my-ass. If I go by the ideology that forced this ship to sea, I’d be crying off-shore, huddled in a corner of her fine poop deck. No – to hell with that: I want to see blue oceans, dolphins, giant turtles, hurricanes, and tropical adventures.
So where does that leave my previous notion? It’s an easy one for anyone to pick up, and you can see why:
It’s so broadly applicable.
This mantra should be handed out to the people who live to it so dearly. I could paint this a hundred times over on a hundred neon nametags, handing out them out in a calm suburb, while school is in session. By the end of an hour, I would have been out forty five minutes ago.
It all boils down to dedication. You can recreate yourself from the ground up, anytime you want. Realizing the positive influences, and striving to maintain them in your life, can often cast brilliant halogens on everything that’s not so stellar. This may mean not eating as much chocolate, alcohol, or red meat, and it may mean doing it with a modicum of snark or animosity. Maybe it means just trying to run twice a week, no matter what. Playing games that actually make you think, like Blokus, chess, or PortaI. Reading books as much as you read comics. Kicking a soccer ball as hard as possible when a gaggle of children are in a heated match (either because you wanted to, or, because you’re playing with them; doesn’t matter to me. Ten points for Slytherin if you did it because you’re a honey badger).
This evolution may cost the people you’ve had around for ages. When you’re moving ahead of where they are in life, they can only follow you. If they don’t want to follow you, they’ll disappear from your radar over time. That’s not a bad thing; your perception of self can be critically influenced by how you perceive yourself. If you don’t know who you are, the only alternative is to know what your friends think you are. After a few minutes running, without a television, without music, and nothing else but your own voice rolling around inside your head, you might find out – at first – it’s not your voice talking back. That will change over time, I promise.
I was envious of those cadets three years ago. They were living a life that was defined by the people around them, but they all had such a positive focus. Well, most of them. In retrospect, they were all trying to make themselves better, and they were helping along anyone who wanted to go with them. Their goal was a group effort, made stronger by the individuals furthering their own efforts.
What’s that say about the other end of the spectrum? If you aren’t going to change, but you want people to think you are, then you dedicate yourself to lying about it. If you are, then just simply do. What does this do for the mantra? – know what? – I don’t care. It makes the whole concept moot.
Gone. Poof. End of story. Goodbye.
If you want to move towards a new goal in life, you can’t do it surrounded by people who are standing still. That’s all that matters in the end.