Sunday, September 16, 2012

3 activities where the after is better than the during

What I like best about these activities is that no matter how much I suffer while doing them, how I feel afterwards more than compensates. The first is going to the gym or exercise in general. It’s hard to get started. As I lie on the sofa, I see the obstacles to going for a bike ride. First is a steeply pitched overpass I have to cross that takes me over a highway and back to the neighborhood where I used to live. Just visualizing it makes me reconsider getting on my bike. And that same ride is what gets me to the gym. But once I do, the endorphins fly and I feel marvelous no matter how hard I have to pedal to get up the slopes (on a bike you notice any incline more than you ever would walking). Another activity that falls into the same category is meditation. Again there’s a resistance to just sitting down and while I’m meditating, I can’t believe what passes through my head. There is the struggle to find the right position, then there’s hunger, then the barrage of thoughts that range from the utterly mundane to the actual problem solving solutions. But that’s not where my mind is supposed to be. But regardless of where I’ve been, the after effects stay with me. I’m calmer and more likely to find pleasure in the smallest details. And of course, there is giving poetry readings. Margaret Atwood has a great short story, “Lives of the Poets” in her collection “Dancing Girls.” The character in this story finds herself lying on the floor of the bathroom with a nosebleed before every reading. Well, it hasn’t gone that far with me, but there are reasons public speaking ranks high in lists of fears. It does get better with practice and preparation. Mostly I’m happy when I finish a reading and find people have listened to my work (and perhaps even applauded).

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