It will not give you energy. It will not make you feel good about yourself. It will make you hungry and tired, and even your ear lobes and toenails will sweat. Sweaty is not a good look for me.
When I was a little girl, I watched the other kids run to the playground, and I thought what’s the point? When the teacher blew her whistle, they all ran to the line. And I thought what’s the point? On Track Day, when kids (not me, of the last chosen for every team) competed in a variety of physical feats on the field behind our elementary school, I sat in the grass making dandelion chains for the victors. I cannot remember any time in my life that I’ve felt compelled to move. I mean, really, what’s the point? I am a sedentary person, a pet rock, a stagnant river. I am a manatee on two legs, lolling about, waiting to be fed.
I am not intellectually lazy. My mind is always active, and it is in constant battle against boredom. If reading were an Olympic sport, I’d score a gold medal for turning the pages really, really fast. I can’t stand a minute when my mind is inactive. When my Zen friends talk about meditation, when the goal is not thinking, I say Om, what’s the point? Even when I sleep, my mind is churning out stories that require mental gymnastics. Case in point: last night I had a dream about Richard Harris in a raging fire! Even at my age, conjuring an image of Richard Harris—while sleeping—requires some pretty impressive firing of synapses.
I like about as much nature as I can see from my LaZy Boy recliner, Even knowing this, my husband thought a family hike would be a good idea. So yesterday, my husband pulled into a parking lot at a beautiful picnic area in the Smoky Mountains. And I immediately thought, wouldn’t it be nice to spend the afternoon sitting at one of those picnic tables reading the newspaper? And where in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, could I find a Sunday New York Times? My reverie was interrupted by the chaos ensuing at the back of the SUV where my husband and children were strapping on backpacks for a 2.2 mile hike up the mountain. I began singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” to remind them that this heinous hike had nothing to offer but the other damn side of the mountain. But even if I’m no athlete, I am a good sport, so I followed our merry little band to the trail head.
It wasn’t long before I began to compose more satisfying, quiet alternatives to this forced march. I saw myself gathering a fluffy cloud of leaves where I could doze until the hikers returned. But I’m a good sport, so I hiked on. I admired the almost fluorescent green scrim of moss growing on fallen logs, and I thought, If I lie down, how long would it take until moss grew on me? But I soldiered on.
Then I spotted a stately tree with a broad trunk, and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to sit right there for a few hours, with a Diet Coke and a bag of Cheetos at the ready, reading that big fat book, Goldfinch, waiting for me on my nightstand? I kept climbing, and maybe it was because I was short of breath and sweating that I thought of having slow, lazy sex—the kind that requires little movement– on a huge flat slab of rock. Three hours later, back at the SUV, everyone was breathing hard and sweating, popping Ibuprofen to prevent aches and pains, and I thought what’s the point?
I got a call from Dr. Kohls last month. She is a kind but thin doctor. Her side of the conversation was mostly jabberwocky. I gathered my blood test results were all mimsy: such and such was high, but should have been low; a little number should be big; and something else was all jiggy. “Huh?” I responded. “The point is,” she said, “you have to start moving a little more.” And then she added, as if it were nothing, “Just exercise a half hour a day.”
After the shock wore off, I grudgingly embarked on a very measured training regimen. Now, every day, I take the elevator down to the fitness room in our building for 30 minutes—not 29 or 31–of painful, boring, aerobic exercise on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical. I thought about reading while riding these beasts, but concluded that it wouldn’t improve the ordeal but it would contaminate my most pleasurable pastime—like eating popsicles after a tonsillectomy.
My doctor said brisk walking could count for exercise, so I tried stepping it out on the interesting sidewalks of downtown Cincinnati. First I had to find the right garb in the Robust Department at J.C. Penney: yoga pants, a tight little top emblazoned with a sequined kittenl a sweat band. At Dick’s, I found a camelback gizmo, so I could stay hydrated. At Bob Roncker’s, I bought $129 shoes and sleek, aerated $14 socks. All suited up, I paused for prayer: Please don’t let this kill me.
I began walking at a jaunty pace, pumping my arms, using cleansing breaths I learned in Lamaze class. I was exhausted, but jubilant, when my stopwatch registered 30 minutes–not 29 or 31. I realized then that I was three blocks from home, and there wasn’t a cab in sight.
I ask you: What’s the point?
Copyright © 2014 Sandy Lingo, All Rights Reserved