I’ve never much thought of myself as an athletic person. I played a couple of team sports when I was a kid – soccer comes to mind – and I did nurture a youthful fascination with the martial arts that led me to take some karate and taekwondo classes. I always loved the outdoors, and I was big into hiking from pretty early on, but in school I usually seemed to gravitate more towards the arts side of the arts/athletics dichotomy that exists so often in schools. Part of it, I’m sure, is just a matter of limited time – kids can’t do everything, no matter how hard they (or their parents) may try – but, whatever the reason, the kids in band and choir weren’t usually the same ones playing on the sports teams in the evenings or on weekends. As time went on, the idea sunk in, the rift grew wider, and I came more and more to think of myself as someone who just wasn’t all that athletic.
In some ways, this is the natural way life progresses – we find our interests, we develop and pursue our own particular passions. My interests in music and theatre dovetailed well with my academic interests, my love affair with books, and my desire to be a writer. So far, so good.
But there was a problem, too. I still enjoyed a good walk and I maintained my love of hiking, but, over time, my being “not particularly athletic” started to become my being “not particularly physical” in general. I didn’t see a place for myself in the culture that surrounded athleticism, exercising, working out, and staying in shape, and the negative impacts of that mindset have been expanding – along with my waistline – more or less since I left school and began my adult life. While I was still in school, I managed to keep some focus on my physical health through activities that I found interesting and enjoyable – yoga and modern dance classes, or early morning runs around town with friends. But after I left that environment and settled into a mostly sedentary working life – one where I spent most of my days sitting at a desk – I found that I didn’t have enough active habits in place to support me in keeping up with my body’s needs. Inertia sets in, and a body at rest, all too often, tends to stay at rest.
But being a body at rest – as lovely as it can be at times – can get a little old after a while, and there’s a nagging frustration that comes with knowing you’re not doing what you ought to do to take care of yourself. Lord willing, I hope to be traipsing across this Earth for some years to come, and our lives should be measured at least as much by their quality as by their quantity. As the old turn of phrase goes, it’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years that really matters. That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and it seems like it’s time to actually do something about it.
And so I recently embarked on a project to rewire myself a bit, in large part by going back to the ideas that worked when I was a bit younger – the ideas that kept me at least somewhat active. Part of my working theory right now is that it wasn’t the specific activities themselves, but the fun I was able to have doing them. Now I’m looking for ways to bring that spirit of fun and play, of the joy of movement, back into my life.
It’s a little scary, setting out on that path, but I’m willing to give it a go and see where it leads.
Posted in roundabout response to the WordPress Daily Prompt: Athletic