Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

(Don't) Sacrifice the Body

I haven't said a thing about how the regular sleep and exercise mandated by The Schedule is affecting me. I have a bedtime of 10:30 pm, and I get up at 5:00 am. I have 30 minutes a day devoted to exercise; I alternate between running or elliptical machine with strength training.

First, I have to confess that the timing of the sleep has been challenging. I have been rock-solid on getting up at 5:00 am, which again is a surpise: most people complain that it's hard to have the willpower to get out of bed in the morning. I have the opposite problem -- keeping the regular bedtime. Either I'm still going full-steam by 10:30 pm and don't want to stop, or I'm exhausted by 8:00 pm and fall asleep with my son for an hour or more before I finish the day's routine. I have yet to work the whole day through and then promptly tuck myself in at 10:30 pm.

And yet, just like with the other parts of the Schedule, I am feeling the effects in spite of not observing it perfectly. I am generally more awake. My body is definitely happier for not being routinely asked to go all the way to its limits. It's not a James Brown I-feel-good kind of good; it's just the absence of a certain pain and stress that I had accepted for so long. I feel five pounds lighter and half an inch taller.

I am not, in fact, five pounds lighter. I took to weighing myself daily, after I shower. 152 pounds. I didn't really set out to do this; my weight is fine. But that's the power of having a routine; if you do everything at the same time every day, it becomes a lot easier to have the consciousness to do other things regularly. It's mostly curiousity: will the exercise affect my weight?

The exercise, too, is having an affect. Again, not as much as one might hope, but certainly noticeable. I don't feel as good as the men and women on cereal boxes and athletic equipment catalogs look like they must feel. But, just like with the sleep, something is different. It's like a subtle rattle that you always heard in your car has suddenly gone away; something that was wearing on the edge of your consciousness is suddenly not there.

Looking back, I realize that my Protestant work ethic and world-renouncing Albigensian theology have given me an adversarial relationship with my body. I resented the limits my body put on me, and beat it up continually to get back at it for imprisoning me so. Now I feel like detante has been reached, and Reagan-style "peace dividends" are starting to be issued. It's not exactly that I've made friends with my body; I just stopped fighting it so hard. The Middle Way, truly.



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