Not as bad as all that

Somebody close to me suggested to me that my last blog post was a little sad. Sorry about that! That was not the intention but it probably fell victim to two different quirks of being one of my piece's of work:

  1. While I do tend to overthink stuff, as a proportion of the time spent thinking, the thinking prior to doing anything or writing anything is miniscule! On the bright side, this means I can crack on with things pretty quickly and without too much baggage to weigh me down (at least, at the beginning, like a tourist, my bags fill up along the way as I collect duty free and tacky souvenirs!).The downside is that I only ever have the loosest sense of what the end point will look like. Which might be why I can attend to triumph and disaster with about the same level of attachment.
  2. I don't re-read this stuff before I post it. That's the joy of the internet! Aside from porn and religion, the internet gives us a facility to belch out our every cognitive air biscuit with only what little filter we apply ourselves. It's enough to make an editor weep!
So, if I came off as a little sorry for myself, I apologise. That was not the intent (such as there was one!). All things have their time. Empires, careers, blood pressure, so much of life has its ups and downs. We cannot fool ourselves by trying to pretend that everything will be sunshine and roses if we but will it hard enough. We have to acknowledge the dross - not to be dominated or overwhelmed by it but because we have to deal with it, even if only sweeping it to one side.

One of my favourite movies is the Princess Bride (my wife knows when I'm feeling a little lower than I've been letting on if I've been watching that...or Singing in the rain after she has gone to bed!). And one of the lines that has stuck with me since I first saw it as a young man is "life is pain Highness, and anybody that says otherwise is selling something!". It played to my cynicism. But it also appealed to my realism. Not necessarily the nihilism of a teenager but nonetheless an acknowledgement that the world is full of things that will hurt you. In recent years I have come to appreciate that suffering on the back of these things is, however, not inevitable and is very much a state of mind. 

I came across Dan Millman a few years back too. While some of his work is a little...'esoteric' for my tastes, there are some gems
"If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer, if you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can't hold on to it forever"
Or more recently still, Sir Terry Pratchett "learning is hard and failure is sharp. I'd hate that kind of thing to happen again, but it's got to be done proper like. No scrimping. No cutting corners." (Raising Steam)

Take yesterday (Day 251) for example. The 260 burpees (yep, still rounding up) in the evening sucked. After 260 burpees wearing the elevation mask the night before and a morning session which featured double-bodyweight back squats, bodyweight overhead pressing and prowler pushing, it turns out that I didn't have much in the tank (indeed, as I type this, my body is issuing constant reminders that I might have worked a little yesterday!). So, the session was not much fun! But, a lot like doing some sets with a weighted vest and then doing some without, the contrast is where you notice the differences. I'll not learn! I like the heavy stuff a little too much to stop it completely but I will appreciate the smooth sessions a little more. 

For a while at least. Being human (just about!), I have an ability to lose context of bad times. If we didn't have this, the species would not continue to propagate! Nobody in their right mind would have a second child if they weren't able to shut out some of the extremes of the experience! Just for the record, I am not comparing anything I do to childbirth. At all, in any way shape or form. That is an experience which is exclusively female and I am not even vaguely suggesting that I know what that feels like. Anyhoo, that disclaimer out of the way, where was I? Oh yes, that memory and the ability to contrast it, will fade and pass, as all things do with time! Fortunately, I am stupid enough to keep going back for more and adding grist to the mill! 

What is unavoidable is that as this burpee year goes on, even the good sessions will drag a bit. Incrementally they will demand more energy. But I know from experience of the year to date (over 34,000 by the time I've done today's session) that no matter how much I procrastinate or fret or strain or sweat, it comes to an end. Some days that finish line arrives sooner than I was expecting, others it feels like no matter how hard you strain, some joker is nudging it a little further away all the time. No matter which variety of session, it will end. The burpee year too will come to a close (and the world will breathe a sigh of relief as they won't have to read any more burpee updates from me!). Every burpee. Every set. Each session is an experience but it has a beginning and an end. A shelf-life.

It may be that the impermanence that I am talking about fills you with despair and a sense of hopelessness. Why? I'm sure you've only recently been moaning about the same old drudgery of work! Everything changes. Even you. Physically if not mentally. For example, approximately 10% of your skeleton is absorbed and remodelled every year. Clinging on tightly to anything is like appreciating fine art by buying it and locking it in a vault. You have it but that doesn't much seem like experiencing it, let alone enjoying it! Enjoy or feel sorry for yourself in that moment but don't exult in the good times nor wallow in the bad. That's the sign of your ego kicking in. The ego is an unreliable companion. It will sell you short or leave you high and dry, all in the interests of protecting itself.

I guess, odd as it seems, what I am trying to say is this - to have experienced things, good and bad makes me lucky. Those moments are mine, even shared, my experience of them was my own. Forgetting about whether others will or won't get a chance to have those experiences (they probably won't, which makes me fortunate again, but other people's circumstances are not a great motivator for mankind), they each layer on the others to help build the me that I am today. For today. That too will pass!

To try  and lighten the mood a little, here's Avenue Q saying all of this so much better than I have done!


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