Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Achieving Life

"Isn't it interesting how when we say 'Hold on, hold on, I need a minute. Just let me think!', what we are really asking for isn't an oppportunity to think, but an opportunity to stop thinking. We just want to find calm amidst the chaos, to let the thought come to us instead of trying to drag it out of ourselves." -- Kendra Potter, my yoga teacher

So about half an hour after last night's post, I went to my yoga session with Kendra. When I woke up this morning, I went for a run and yes, the pain was delicious. I only lasted about 10 minutes but it  was a glorious 10 minutes of sprinting and all-out exertion. And is it any coincidence that the world feels so much brighter, vibrant and beautiful this morning? I didn't ride a train to work, but a cloud.

It annoys me that some will demean the effects of these activities as a mere endorphin rush. Consider the following NYTimes blog and Wall Street Journal article that cite this Circulation study on what exercise does at the cellular-molecular level. Exercise keeps you young, vibrant and happy at the molecular level.
Our physical programming system, our body-map, deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA, the molecules indicate that we are supposed to live. We are meant to live pursuing the achievement of life -- not the postponement of death. No matter how many times I write this, and God knows, I've spent many a blog entry on it, I cannot emphasize it enough. The sedentary life is no life at all. It is a slow, wasting disease.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am trying to fit every life into the same shape as mine. But I cannot in my heart ever truly believe so. I cannot fathom the desire to live a quiet, trouble-free life. Why would, how could anyone live without goals, without passion and vitality? Knowing what it's like to fly screaming into the wind at Mach 50 on your bike, to run, to climb, to jump, swim, stretch, survive, to continually push the upper-most limit of your mind, your body, your heart, to see how deeply you can love, how loftily you can think, how wide your jaws can stretch in swallowing whole this life, having even tasted a tithe of this, can you really want to live a life of moldering in front of a T.V. or drowning in a bar?

Recall, if you will, a moment of achievement, any achievement. Was it your first kiss? There's no shame in choosing this event -- that someone chose you speaks to the values that they saw in you. Or perhaps it was making the math team in Junior High School, coming to the rescue of your co-workers at a presentation, ascending the summit of Mt. Everest and knowing that no one stands higher than you at this moment or perhaps weaving a spell over your audience as you perform your magnum opus at the pinnacle of your career. All I ask for is the memory of pride, glorious pride welling, no surging up in your chest, arms upraised exulting in the joy of the moment. Let me ask you, reader -- is this not what life is supposed to be? The application of your various powers to a task that is beyond your ability and rising above yourself? Or should life always be easy? Which would you rather have? The dull, damp mediocrity of ease and leisure or the heated intensity of pursuing a dream, a goal?

Watching television -- reality shows, this season's new drama, can anyone, and I mean anyone, say that they feel a deep fulfillment and satisfaction in this "activity"? The moments we spend living are our lives. There are no, none, not a single throw away moment of life. Killing time is nothing other than suicide. How you spend your days is your life. When someone goes to a bar for some such occasion or another and gets shit-faced drunk, when this is what they spend 5 days of a 7 day week waiting for, is this their idea of humanity's zenith? They wait for this?

My theology is thus: Man joyous is God's crown. Sedentary living and alcoholism to me are just different manifestations of the same disorder -- escapism. Life will not come to those who flee from it. If you will not cry for it, you will never laugh from it. If you will not break yourself for it, it will never build you up. Life must be achieved -- by the power of your mind, the force of your will, your determination and the audacity of your imagination. Life must be seized, it must be worked for and it will require more than you can currently give.

And in running I find myself living. When I am sprinting at top speed and watching the world blur past -- this is my heaven, this is my joy. Everyone who marvels at my busy life usually sees my training as just another element in the rigamarole and rush of things. It couldn't be further from the truth. Running anchors me. Calm exists at 180 beats per second. Why is this? Because achieving life gives you the tools to achieve even more life. I was made to live this way. We were meant to work for life.

Below is a video that never ceases to inspire me.

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