When my wife starts walking around the house wearing a heavy coat and gloves, and pretends to be scraping ice off her laptop screen...I get the message. Summer is over. It's getting cold. Time to turn on the furnace. Time to get the home all warm and toasty while imagining huge piles of money burning to supply that heat.
I personally can tolerate much lower temperatures. When I lived on my own, I usually waited until the cat's water dish froze over before firing up the furnace. But, alas, I must compromise. That's what marriage is all about.
For the past few months, I've been playing God in my back yard. Every morning I stroll out with handfuls of peanuts that I toss to all the squirrels who are awaiting my blessings of bounty. I'm probably fostering a dependency by feeding them rather than allowing the them to forage on their own. The squirrels have come to expect the peanuts, even demand them, each day. For my part, I'm starting to toss a few peanuts at the Blue Jays....to at least make the squirrels work a little bit for their breakfast.
I love the above scene from Star Trek. In it, Captain Kirk tells that pain is not something to be avoided or that guilt can be casually erased from one's life....but I see many people spending a great deal of their own lives trying to do just that. Lord Byron wrote "The great art of life is the sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain". However; most of us follow the advice of another great poet, Daffy Duck, who says "I hate pain, it hurts".
So we avoid it. Through drugs, religion, possessions, or just flat out denial we spend mighty effort to not feel...bad....uncomfortable....pain. Because it hurts.
But it makes us who we are. Of all the regrets I have in my life (and I've got a shitload of them) I can honestly say that I wouldn't want to do things differently. The road I traveled got me to this here and now and if I had turned right instead of left somewhere along the way, I would never have had many of the current joys in my life. My kids, my grandkids, my wife, my friends....gone if I had avoided some pain at some time or another.
To live a life in fear of pain....to me....seems the most intense, and unnecessary, type of all.
I'm an early riser. It's not that I have any particular problems with sleeping, it's just that I tend to have problems waking up. I'm not one of those people that can leap out of bed and be out the door to start their day within a half hour. I need lotsa time...and lotsa coffee....to get going in the morning.
I generally wake up around 5 a.m. every day. I use to get up at 4, but it tended to irritate my wife and I eventually discovered that I was suffering from the effects of chronic sleep deprivation. My Dad always told me that "early morning is the best time of the day" and I admit to enjoying the peace and calm of the pre-dawn hours. Sitting outside and listening to the world wake up is as good a Zen meditation as you can find.
I also take this time to reflect on my dreams during the night. Not as in trying to interpret them and psychoanalyze myself....I think that's a bunch of BS anyway...but to just replay them in my mind for my own amusement. I've always had very vivid and complex dreams. Even what could be called nightmares are highly entertaining.
Anyway...where I'm going with all this is that I feel sleeping and dreaming are crucial to good health. I would venture to say, even more important than exercise. We need sleep to cleanse and recharge our bodies. We need to dream for the same reason. Good health depends on a good night's sleep. Bad sleeping habits can cause bad health, which in turn hinders a good night's sleep causing further health problems.
I staggered out this morning to do my cardio jog/walk/limp in the park. It's not really a park, more like a trail, but it's pretty nice and I find it much more fun than plodding along on a treadmill inside a gym. As I was loping along the trail, I came up to a lady doing a power walk with a little rat-like dog wearing a sweater. The mutt tore into a run straight for me yapping a mile a minute. I stopped and stood still because I didn't want the little rodent to bite my ankles, and the lady must have thought I was frightened because she said "oh, don't worry, he doesn't bite".
I managed a weak smile. Then I looked down at the alleged dog and had an instant flash fantasy of picking the little snot up, drop kicking him over the oak trees, throwing up my arms yelling "touchdown", and dancing around the lady as she screamed in horror.
Then I really grinned.
She, of course, thought I was smiling at her precious pooch and instructed her dog to "say bye-bye to the nice man". The lady resumed her power walk while the dog lagged behind long enough to deposit a little bomb on the trail.
Made me think that I should act on my fantasies more often.
I had a co-worker who described a particularly hectic day at work last week as trying to tread water with a swarm of rats clinging on to you. A somewhat gruesome image, but it did describe for me the frequent feeling of being overwhelmed with details and slowly sinking in an ocean of demands, duties, and deadlines. One day passes to several that passes to weeks to months and the grand goals for fitness are always just out of reach...because you are being pulled under by details. How to do it? How to shake the minutia of daily living to develop a new way of living daily? That's a question I struggle with all the time.
I get lots of advice from folks that do seem to have the time and energy to stick to healthy eating and consistent exercise. Actually, the advice is usually in the form of "just do it", which is about as helpful as telling an addict "just say no". Like an addict...I know what to do but changing the way one lives while continuing to live a particular way is a bit more difficult than those who give the advice may imagine. That is why most effective behavior modification attempts take place in isolation from a person's everyday life.
But I can't do that!
I have a job....a demanding one....one with responsibilities that I just can't walk away from or put on a back burner while I get my shit together with other stuff. My job requires my full attention. It requires a willingness to respond with no regard to the clock or the calender, whether I'm hungry or sick, sleepy, or dead tired.
Many people have that problem, especially those my age. We have responsibilities. Unlike some twenty-somethings..our lives are not entirely our own. Other people depend upon us. I'm searching for an answer, a secret, on how to change a lifestyle while living in a lifestyle. How to shake off a few of the rats.