Just now as I'm soaking in a hot-but not so hot - eucalyptus Epsom salty bath, I realize I don't always like things to be so intense.
I'm enjoying this warmth - whereas in some other days I enjoy the heat. Now, I lay here perfectly enveloped in the warm wash of comfort. It's almost velvety.
I wonder to myself if this means I'm getting old.
The velvety warmth swishes around me everytime I move and the water is viscous because of the saltiness and the light glimmers a bit as it coalesces with the water like a dance.
I look at myself occasionally. I notice the changes. I notice the things I like or don't like trapped all within my one self forever together. Of course, because it me or because of my imagination - just like when you look at me - I pretend I see more that the exterior. I see the intentions and the desires and the past and some future and the now. There is kind and demonic now.
Those sentences may be further dismantled in some amount of time or writing at some later to be disclosed date.
Getting back to the subject matter - this idea of allowing myself to notice and be okay with less than intense - beckons me to realize that although it's not a state of mind I would want to exist in always, it is a state of mind I can enjoy existing in.
This gentle-ness, this quiet peacefulness, this skin hiding just beneath the chilled air under the surface of the water... This salt easing my sore muscles and warm bath easing my stressful day. to night .. It will lead to a restful sleep full of dreams and restore whatever it is I lost in all the work and strain.
Am I getting old? I don't even think it's a question anymore. Of course, I am aging. Already I've lived so many adventures - what difference does it even make? Katie Byron - as crazy as she is - had it right when she said to turn it around. Take that thought and turn it around if you need to... I don't really need to. Not for this. But I have for some other thoughts and it's helped.
It's kind of like when your mom would say, "what's going to happen? Is the roof going to cave in? Will the world come to an end?" The answer is always no. Time won't stop. It is pretty relentless. So we have no choice but to face it. No matter what that "it" is.
For me, it's just being happy. That means somethin g different for everyone. For me, it means being physically and mentally strong enough to take care of my family. To try to keep my children engaged and free thinking at the same time. To find that balance and for them to find their own strength and happiness as well. Of course, it is my hope that doing triathlons and other things inspire them. To them, I will always be old. But maybe I can help redefine exactly was "old" is and what it doesn't have to be.
Yesterday, I happily completed a 60/65 mile bike ride. I don't have my exact personal data on this one due to a variety of foibles : forgot to restart my clock after a stop, saddle needed adjusting -thus a stop, ran out of water -thus we stop, people needed the bathroom - thus, we stop, and finally, although he had just had a tune up, his crank was about to fall off around mile 60- thus, we stop. And so it goes.
But I didn't necessarily choose that ride so I could get long length of speed in. I chose it because they were heading toward Lemont and I knew it would be hilly and we would get our hill repeats in.
At one point someone realized we were at the bottom of the hill we just went up and lamented what a cruel ride leader we had! No doubt it's a strain on your legs and glutes and I could feel the lactic acid burning a hole right through my riding shorts.
I'd get to the top of a hill full of energy and the flat parts felt like a breeze. We went through rollers and some serious quarter mile 8/9/10 % grades as well. I'd say we did at least five or six of those. Probably 15-20 hills altogether. Not so bad.
And speaking of breeze, the spring change in weather definitely didn't fail us. Even on the flat parts the head wind was making sure we were doing our part to struggle.
I felt a little stuff going into a bootcamp following the ride. I was a little endorphined-out as well. More afraid I wouldn't be able to lift my own wait than actually being able to lift my own weight. The ethereal lightness remained with me and I remained more concerned about the way is feel the-day-after than on the day.
I did rest a good eleven hours after finally hitting the hay when my day came to an end - and I feel great. The nutritional changes and work out habits have done their job it seems. Since about March 26th, I've been fasting after 4 or 5pm and have made my nutritional focus on clean, organic green vegetables and proteins and have increased my consumption of soy/almond milk. I've also increased my swim and cycling routine... Although I know I have to add in running pretty soon. Not my favorite. Who knows, I think maybe I'll go for a 5.5 miler today.
Excellent thoughts - enjoy!
What suffering does by David Brooks
April 7, 2014
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in a bunch of conversations in which the unspoken assumption was that the main goal of life is to maximize happiness. That’s normal. When people plan for the future, they often talk about all the good times and good experiences they hope to have. We live in a culture awash in talk about happiness. In one three-month period last year, more than 1,000 books were released on Amazon on that subject.
But notice this phenomenon. When people remember the past, they don’t only talk about happiness. It is often the ordeals that seem most significant. People shoot for happiness but feel formed through suffering.
Now, of course, it should be said that there is nothing intrinsically ennobling about suffering. Just as failure is sometimes just failure (and not your path to becoming the next Steve Jobs) suffering is sometimes just destructive, to be exited as quickly as possible.
But some people are clearly ennobled by it. Think of the way Franklin Roosevelt came back deeper and more empathetic after being struck with polio. Often, physical or social suffering can give people an outsider’s perspective, an attuned awareness of what other outsiders are enduring.
But the big thing that suffering does is it takes you outside of precisely that logic that the happiness mentality encourages. Happiness wants you to think about maximizing your benefits. Difficulty and suffering sends you on a different course.
First, suffering drags you deeper into yourself. The theologian Paul Tillich wrote that people who endure suffering are taken beneath the routines of life and find they are not who they believed themselves to be. The agony involved in, say, composing a great piece of music or the grief of having lost a loved one smashes through what they thought was the bottom floor of their personality, revealing an area below, and then it smashes through that floor revealing another area.
Then, suffering gives people a more accurate sense of their own limitations, what they can control and cannot control. When people are thrust down into these deeper zones, they are forced to confront the fact they can’t determine what goes on there. Try as they might, they just can’t tell themselves to stop feeling pain, or to stop missing the one who has died or gone. And even when tranquillity begins to come back, or in those moments when grief eases, it is not clear where the relief comes from. The healing process, too, feels as though it’s part of some natural or divine process beyond individual control.
People in this circumstance often have the sense that they are swept up in some larger providence. Abraham Lincoln suffered through the pain of conducting a civil war, and he came out of that with the Second Inaugural. He emerged with this sense that there were deep currents of agony and redemption sweeping not just through him but through the nation as a whole, and that he was just an instrument for transcendent tasks.
It’s at this point that people in the midst of difficulty begin to feel a call. They are not masters of the situation, but neither are they helpless. They can’t determine the course of their pain, but they can participate in responding to it. They often feel an overwhelming moral responsibility to respond well to it. People who seek this proper rejoinder to ordeal sense that they are at a deeper level than the level of happiness and individual utility. They don’t say, “Well, I’m feeling a lot of pain over the loss of my child. I should try to balance my hedonic account by going to a lot of parties and whooping it up.”
The right response to this sort of pain is not pleasure. It’s holiness. I don’t even mean that in a purely religious sense. It means seeing life as a moral drama, placing the hard experiences in a moral context and trying to redeem something bad by turning it into something sacred. Parents who’ve lost a child start foundations. Lincoln sacrificed himself for the Union. Prisoners in the concentration camp with psychologist Viktor Frankl rededicated themselves to living up to the hopes and expectations of their loved ones, even though those loved ones might themselves already be dead.
Recovering from suffering is not like recovering from a disease. Many people don’t come out healed; they come out different. They crash through the logic of individual utility and behave paradoxically. Instead of recoiling from the sorts of loving commitments that almost always involve suffering, they throw themselves more deeply into them. Even while experiencing the worst and most lacerating consequences, some people double down on vulnerability. They hurl themselves deeper and gratefully into their art, loved ones and commitments.
The suffering involved in their tasks becomes a fearful gift and very different than that equal and other gift, happiness, conventionally defined.
So not only did I have the "oh sh*t" moment about a week ago that the first tri is two months out, last night during my 1500 meter swim it began to sink in that I might actually have to try a little harder this year - of course I laughed at myself because Ive always taken the hard line that "I'm just doing it because it's fun and good for me"... Phew! It's a good thing that's still true too!
About a week ago I had to seriously change my habits. I found myself taking about it to my kids with the hopes they would hear that a person struggles a bit before a change and thinks about it and that it is just indeed a habit which can be changed with some effort.
My first pledge was to begin adding a few thousand meters in the pool weekly. My second is to begin a daily fast from 4 or 5pm on. My third is that my meals would be clean : farm fresh proteins and fresh vegetables, as many green ones as possible.
So far, I have had more energy than I should! Especially in the evenings. The good news that I am still feeling good.
I also made my first spring ride outdoors - only 26.5 miles, but it was wonderful! Can't wait to get out there again.
This has been family time for me as well: my son swims with me and my other son has taken to running. Anything that gets then up and moving is fantastic in my opinion!