The Runway is Clear for Takeoff
January 8, 2003
wasn’t 2002 a lot of fun? I’m black and blue, and have
a slight limp. My hair is falling out and the doc says the rash
is due to nerves. Living on welfare is not doing my self-image any
good, but it is keeping the beans on the table. At “group,”
Becky, the community social worker, assured Laree that though loss
of appetite and concurrent weight gain was unusual, things would
probably normalize after she started sleeping again (“The
dreams of monsters will subside with continued shock treatment,”
she said) and stopped eating wallboard.
who soar the underside of heaven are in good hands and I don’t
know why we fret. Wars, terrorism, unemployment, national and local
fraud, snipers, financial disarray, spiritual spoil and declining
McDonald’s stock prices are only temporary setbacks, a series
of inconveniences, minor slumps to test our good humor and hardy
spirits. Hands on the throttle, Bombers; eyes on the horizons, roll
her over and take her up.
I prepare my newsletter, recall the year gone by, and in jest give
it a “D” for goodness and smiles, I note that offered
the choice, I prefer the tortuous, craggy and overgrown path to
the clear and predictable way so many of us dream about and seek.
Who wants to know exactly where one is going and exactly how one
is going to get there? Furthermore, who is foolish enough to entertain
thoughts so frivolous and impractical: a scientist, a storyteller,
a seven-year-old? The best we can do is make a basic plan, seek
wise counsel, visualize its execution (dream), hope for its achievement
(pray) and put it in motion (jump off the cliff). The rest is what
I speak apologetically for all of us? (This’ll only take a
sec.) In spite of our beauty, none of us is perfect. Life, though
grand beyond words, is a struggle, often cruel. We gripe; we blame
others, we rage and, eventually, we get over it. We then chuckle
in embarrassment, recognizing the faults and guilt are often our
own; we realize that by our own hands we set ourselves up for the
misfortunes or misdeeds that befall us. Twice blessed, humility
follows and understanding is our reward.
troubles are our troubles, it seems to me. Our troubles are often
our fortunes. That’s the way I view 2002. Boy, did I learn
a thing or two or ten by the good fortune of troubles that surrounded
me in the cloud of dust gone by. There’s only one way, precipitous
and unkind as it might appear, and that’s forward.
our growing storehouse of knowledge, let’s decide what we
need to do and do it, that is, jump off the cliff.
many have lost excess body fat over the past year? Gleeful faces,
hands up… great question, great answers. A hard working gym
member informed me of a nationwide review taken last week to determine
the top resolutions for 2003. The number one pledge of 45% of those
interviewed was to lose weight. Upon the minds of 45 out of every
100 souls invited to participate in the poll was engraved the burning
need and desire to lose weight. How many more souls are lost, don’t
notice their fatness, don’t care or don’t say, and how
many are under-muscled, out of shape and suffering poor health as
no mind reader, but I suspect the same folks, were they questioned
further on the subject, would reveal their burning, yet un-enunciated
wish to improve their health, strength, appearance, energy, physical
abilities and general well-being -- let’s throw in esteem,
attitude, character and personality as well, just to be sociable.
Makes me dizzy; each and every quality touched upon in this brief
paragraph is attainable through regular exercise and right eating
one day at a time. The gold, the gemstones, life and breath are
in us. We poison and neglect them, we let them rust and rot and
grow rigid, disintegrate and die.
encouraged, and only eight days into the year and 800 words into
this week’s song, dance and riddle. Last week I mentioned
our gym’s Winterize Special, the 6-week Get-in-shape offer
to lure the interested, yet hesitant trainees -- the lost sheep
at the fence line who know there’s more to life than wool
and nibbling tufts of dry grass -- into the fold. About 40 folks
joined and they are busy and intent and grinning from ear to ear.
Perhaps that’s wincing -- nonetheless it’s a striking
facial expression, indicating conviction and emotion.
counting on them. They are our gym’s portion of the 45% haunted
by declining health and physical condition, disappointment and guilt.
It was the negative that dragged them into the gym and it’ll
be the positive that keeps them there. The job of the iron and steel
refuge is to stir in them the sunshine and warm breeze of exercise
and right eating, create a comfortable atmosphere, exert sufficient
pressure and, when the timing is right, crank up the heat and bring
on the winds of change. Iron to the outsider is cold and heavy,
lifeless and punishing. How can anyone develop a relationship with
a pile of metal? I dare you say that in front of your car or pickup
truck, Harley or Sport Utility Vehicle… break its heart.
muscle and disposing of excess fat is not a resentful chore, but
a grand project presenting rewards and interesting challenges to
grasp and enjoy. You are in the making of a better and happier person,
an improved, more vital self. Resistance with purpose and understanding
is fun and lovable. The patterns of movement with barbells and dumbbells,
the execution of exercise with natural feeling and form, the focus
and peace of muscular concentration, the control and familiarity
of pain that is strangely agreeable and knowable, the sense of function
and power with each completed rep and set… do these describe
a burden of misery, a sorrowful yoke? There is joy in the practice,
sweetness in the application.
first thing is to embellish upon the benefits of weight training
(a very long list), it being the safest and most direct route to
re-establishing and furthering well-being and goodness in every
way, insisting it absolutely works. I convince them that the sweet
combination of right eating and exercise is simple, in their control,
and adorable. Of the important and effective priorities in one’s
life, good nutrition and strenuous activity should be in the top
five, not listed among such dubious pursuits as rearranging deck
furniture or recalling the names of NFL players who scored touchdowns
in the Superbowls.
comfort in them thar barbells, love in those dumbbells and the rhythm
of nature in the cables that go up and down. Can you hear the music
in the clang and clatter of the steel, the symphonic deep breathing
and groans of exertion? Can you feel the dance as you move from
one exotic movement to the next? The body comes alive with heat
and moisture, pump and burning, extension and contraction, panting
and pursuit. On rare occasions, someone will sneak out the back
door, as if escaping from a madhouse. They’ll be back.
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