12/09/2010

Training update: What training?

This afternoon, I got over the mental block I've had about the cold and got the shoes laced up for a run. Lately, I seem to make excuses for not wanting to get out there. Other times, I genuinely can't make time in my schedule to get out there. I've been in a slump.

Let's flash back to two years ago today. I braved a trip to Gold's Gym and signed up for a two-year contract, on the spot, right there. After years of being sedentary, I committed myself to it.

Today, I wrote a letter to the financial company that handles memberships, asking for my two-year contract to not renew on a month-to-month basis. I sent it certified letter, because otherwise they wouldn't accept my request.

Joining Gold's made sense at the time. I was going to be living about a mile away. I followed my housemate's sleeping patterns, which meant I went to bed and got up at a regular person's hours. I had time to go to the gym before work. I was going six days a week, alternating between the treadmill and the bike thing until I got the doctor's note saying I was okay to use the weight machines.

The first time I exercised, I just walked on the treadmill. Really fast, mind you. I didn't have any gym clothes yet, so I had on a white t-shirt and gray sweat pants.

I was so nervous going in there. I couldn't imagine myself as someone who was in shape. I'd always been fat, I convinced myself. I wasn't that kind of person, I thought.

I realized around this time that I really didn't like the person I'd become. I was looking back at a long life of bad choices, and I knew I had to get myself right. I knew if I just committed to exercise, I would transform myself.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the motivation. Pushing my body reduced my negative energy, my negative emotions, and off I went. For those first three months, I was always at the gym, and it was fantastic.

Then I ran a road race. And another. Suddenly, I only wanted to run outside. I would run and then track my progress by mapping out my routes on Google Earth, tracking how far I went.

For a while, I was good at going to the gym for weight training, but that began to taper off. I also began to get busier at work, and then returned to a job at Court Square Tavern. I began going to the gym less and less.

My marathon training stopped last fall after I injured myself. But, after a ten day rest, I started running again, and picked it up somewhat okay. I kept running, but last winter forced me back to the gym. I was grateful for my membership.

I trained all winter for the Charlottesville Ten Miler, and was pleased with my showing. Completing that in my time made me feel like I could do what I set my mind to, and a chapter of my life ended.

Somewhere along the way, exercise alone wasn't enough. I needed to express myself, so I picked up the guitar and began playing. Usually this has meant playing very late at night when all the work is done, which means I like to sleep in when I can. Athletic training hasn't been totally abandoned, but it's not a priority like it was in the beginning. As we come closer to the spring, I'll definitely be working to get back into shape. I need to buy a pair of shoes before I get serious, and I really can't afford a pair at the moment.

Also, races cost money, and I've not really been able to spare any. So, I'm doing it on the cheap.

I plan to enjoy the last month of membership I have at Gold's, and then I'll switch to the new Smith pool near my house. There's a little fitness center in there, and it has a treadmill, which is all I need for now.

Oh yeah, and a pool. I may take up swimming. Why not?

I'm no longer really training as much as maintaining my shape and trying to stay in fit. I know at any point I can step it up if I need to. I'm training other parts of my life, working hard to get better at playing guitar, studying songs like I've never really done before, trying to pick them apart to see how they work.

12/06/2010

Two years on...

The wind evaporates my heat on these cold nights, but I'm not sure any of it goes anywhere. Maybe it stays within, my energy waiting around for the next time it is needed. Wearing clothes helps at least keep the spark alive.

This is the two year anniversary of the end of my marriage, and likely a time to take stock publicly for a moment about where I am and who I am. Writing here is not always advised, as a writer friend told me early on in the process when I was much more likely to let slip one of the details that painted me in a less than favorable light.

You can't control the way you look in the world, not unless you're really talented and you have a passel of handlers advising you on everything from how to hold your head up to which hand should hold the coffee mug. But you can choose to project a positive image of yourself in order that others may regard you as being confident.

"Fake it til you make it" is the common refrain that makes this possible.

I went to the gym for the first time in two months today. I joined Gold's two years ago this week because I was told it would be a good stress reliever. I weighed a lot more than I do now, and I did not have a mindset for exercise. But, I soon poured my energy into myself and I learned to run.

Lately, I've not been running nearly as much. I haven't needed to. I've more or less come to terms with the end of the marriage, realizing it was necessary for both of us. I've also been blessed with a former partner with whom I share the same essential philosophy of parenting.

You run into people in this town quite often, especially if you spend half of your time in the same downtown area. Eventually everyone comes through, and it's hard to avoid the people you don't want to see. But, of course, you do see them, and you have to figure out a way to respond.

Recently I saw my ex with her new partner, and I was genuinely happy for them. Sure, I was nervous as heck because I've had a hard time coming to terms with that aspect of the process. I didn't want to have a hard time, but I did anyway, and I've had to work very hard to try to understand that process. When I saw them, it was the same day I had a dream in which I had a very pleasant Christmas with them.

***

Those first few months, I was at the gym five or six days a week. I was dedicated to transforming my body. I poured all of my negativity into my body in order to burn it off. I was too tired to think a lot of times.

Even though I've cut back significantly in the past five months or so, I must admit that I definitely have transformed my metabolism. I've learned to seriously enjoy pushing myself, though I've certainly lost a sense of urgency.

Today, I was on the treadmill because it was far too cold and windy outside for my tastes. Also, I realized that I'd not actually used my membership for a while. So I went in and ran.

But the treadmill is so boring. Even though I had music to listen to, and television to watch, I didn't actually go anywhere. Running has become about taking ownership of my space. I've learned so many of the wonderful details of this wonderful place in which I live.

I am so glad to be in Charlottesville, and to be living this life. Two years on, I realize I'm in the middle of this great adventure. I have so much to learn about the world, about myself, about how I fit into the world, and about how I can do more to help others.

I'm kind of sad today about something I will keep private. But I can deal with it. In a way, the situation mirrors the end of my marriage. I don't want something to end, but it's ended, or at least transformed, and you can't go back and make it work again. Time moves in one direction.

It is cold today, and again I face another winter alone. But of course, I'm not alone. I'm a member of this community. I write knowing at least some will read what I have to say. Writing cleanses me, transforms sadness into something that can inform the future.

I believe in some ways I have learned to redirect myself in a positive direction when things are at their worst.

"Sean Tubbs, you're getting all tizzyfied. Stop it," said my friend tonight while we had a quick drink after work. This person has become a great friend to me in the past few months.

She was right to calm me down. Talking to her pushed me towards working myself into a frenzy of sorts, but I knew I didn't want to dwell on the past, so I calmed down. We parted ways, and I came home. I put a Neil Young tape on and began to write. I've begun an obsession with him, in part because of a treasure trove of cassettes I picked up last week.

I don't have my guitar tonight. Along with running, learning to play again has opened up whole doors of possibility. I feel much more confident in my abilities, and I'm working towards learning how to express some of that publicly, if only to meet others who play. Music puts me in touch with myself, makes me feel at home on this planet of ours.

My guitar is being restrung at Heinz Musitronics. A guy I know Court Square Tavern did it for me, but I didn't know he worked there. Another example of this town, and the possibility to build connections with people. That's what we need as people.

We're a country of over 300 million people. All of us are in the middle of this awful recession, and I certainly have no solutions. I'm somewhat disengaged from the political system, as I tend not to talk about things with people.

The direction forward has to lie in positive thinking writ large, expecting the best of people, and being as generous as you can. Things get better, but they only do so if the individual or organization focuses on the big picture.

What is that big picture? Can that even be answered in a way we can all agree on?

I'm afraid we live in a time when the collective us does not has enough training in abstract thinking. It is so easy for people to believe whatever they hear, each of us prone to emotional manipulation. I am worried right now that people of different political beliefs are demonizing each other to the point where society could break down if it goes unchecked.

And here I call private again, and say I can't say anything else beyond that trite statement.

But I can offer this perspective.

In this past year, I've seen music bring people together. I've attended so many live shows, both at the Pavilion, and in little clubs all over town. I've been moved by so many great performances.

My hero, Dan Deacon, appeared before my very eyes for a show at the Southern. I learned about the brilliant LCD Soundsystem, and the music soundtracked my summer, only to see them two months later.

(It's important to me as I wrote this to note that "I'm not in love" was playing just before they took the stage. A little detail serving as an important detail in the historical geology of my life.)

I learned about Gogol Bordello from a good friend when I took her to see the show at the Pavilion. I look forward to seeing them in a few weeks.

***

Two years on, I find myself looking back at two years of a journey to where I am at this moment. I've left trails for myself in the form of music and journal entries, all to document the experience. Some might call this self-absorbed, but I call it living my life, training myself to become an observer in the hopes of capturing these times in which we live.

I don't really know philosophy except what I can learn in five minute explorations, but I've always tried to live my life according to Socrates' directive that "the unexamined life is not worth living."

However, I focus far too much on myself, and the examination can sometimes lead to the tizzyfying dance I do in my head, wrestling over things I can't control. But if I let go, I have learned I can almost always see a bigger picture.

I am much happier when I'm doing something for others, which is why working the tavern on a busy Friday night makes me feel so fulfilled. Making others happy makes me happy.

I don't need to fake it anymore. Life is good, and I am happy to be alive and I wouldn't change very much. I can only change the future by making good decisions along the way there. Looking back, I can see so many places where I have erred. Who among us can't?

***

The wind fuels me on these nights, as I remember that our comfortable existence on
this planet depends on quite a good bit of preparation. I imagine our most ancient ancestors learning to control fire, and I'm comforted by the thought that each of carries that initial spark within.