I don’t know. If I’m honest about it, it feels weird. But one of those weirds that is based in curiosity and interest and the unsettled feeling running through me is foreign, but not unwelcome. This is the second day – it’s not even enough of a trend to feel like it might take root into a habit.
I used to think I would exercise more if it made me feel something other than discomfort. I don’t know why today, as I was traipsing around my bedroom to an oddball playlist and a muted Leslie Sansone 2-mile walk, I thought..this feels good. And then, out of the surprise of that, I thought back through the general sense of exercise experiences in my life. Most of them have been fraught with the same kind of fear that informs my driving/life anxiety and panic. I recall some gym class where we asked to do situps and other physical activities and needed to do a particular number in a stipulated amount of time. Running a mile in fifteen. I would come face to face with these tests and find my muscles shivering. I thought there was something really fucked up with me. Everyone else could do it and my stomach shook and got stiff and refused to pull me up. I remember this as scary, as shaming, as embarrassing. Just don’t do it and the feeling stops. The fluttering, elevated heart rate needed to be slowed – nobody can live at that speed! The idea that you just needed to strengthen the muscle didn’t occur to me and no one mentioned that I was fine, I just needed work a bit more and strengthen up. My body was, and is, this traitorous pedestal for my thoughts. Pushing it to do more risked it turning off all together. Not unlike Amelie’s incorrect and uninformed diagnosis from her father that she had an irregular heartbeat and that exertion was a potentially fatal risk, I decided for myself that I didn’t have a body meant for full bore living.
I don’t imagine this is a unique experience – being shaped by the first sensation that your body is different and doesn’t necessarily behave the way everyone else’s does. I do think that my reaction might be a bit off the bell curve. Over the years, I’d pick up exercise programs and throw myself into them with no premeditation. When I got lightheaded doing something gentle like yoga, I thought, stupidly, viscerally, out of the powerful, out of whack pituitary that it reinforced the truth. Then, my self-identified Emily Dickinson-inspired writerhood has no room in its mythos for sweaty armpits and
Exercise can’t be fun if you’re doing it on a knife’s edge. If it’s an all or nothing proposition of skinny, rock-hard muscles training for marathons that would explode your heart with its intensity or laying very still and waiting for death…I thought for a long time that, by necessity, by logical standards, I had to pick the latter every time. Nobody was putting that choice in front of me, but that’s how I saw it.
Today…did not feel that way. Today’s half an hour felt bouncy and buoyant and let’s go, let’s go, let’s go! That 30 minutes felt the same as ten. I felt like I could keep going. It felt like a brief, natural high where all my worries and griefs could be shifted to one side.
And we have another walk planned in an hour or two for the dogs and I feel fine about that. More walking means, I think, more ice cream and dried apples and more of whatever I eat for dinner after this morning’s lengthy attempt to make huevos rancheros needlessly complicated.
And writing! There’s time and energy to write now. I feel several percentage points clearer in my skull.
This is good! Remember this when tomorrow I’m made of custard and hate everything. Remember this when I can’t remember my ability to crawl out of bed.
I am always trying to measure and control and reduce excessive excitement. If I start believing in something, especially related to my own dreams and influence over them, it’ll boil over and come to nothing. I miss the bubbling. The OH SHIT, this is possible. I keep doing this, I give myself more security over my health, not less. My little year-end secret knickers project for myself becomes more viable.
Come here with me, into my little teapot. Here there is a roaring tempest and the storm cries: It’s good! It’s good! It’s good!