By yesterday, Saturday, I was not only fully recovered, but the almost six miles we Fairhaven walkers covered at a brisk pace seemed, if not easy, at least nowhere near as tiring. Of course, the difference was that although it was sunny, it was also early in the day, and we had plenty of shady spots and it was a mere hour and a half. Not to mention with iced coffee at the end, along with lots of animated conversation.
My faithful readers know that I am definitely addicted to getting regular exercise, and I wrote last week about having discovered the Five Tibetan Rites while reading a book about Olga Kotelko. It's been a couple of weeks now and I've done them every morning and definitely can feel a difference in the way I approach my day afterwards. I read yesterday that Rian from Older But Better has started doing them, too. I'll be curious to learn if she notices anything after some more time passes. They are purported to be ancient rites that balance the body's vortexes, practiced by Tibetan monks long ago (and maybe even today). I downloaded the 1939 book that was first written about them and learned that it's a good idea to work up slowly to performing them 21 times each, even if you're able to do it easily. Well, of course yesterday I decided to try all 21 but won't do that again, after having read that it's not a good idea. So I'll stick to 11 for awhile, although while I don't think it would hurt me, I also don't want to burn out on them too soon. They are interesting.
I've been spending my summer days reading a good deal, too. I finished The Boys in the Boat, which I loved, about a rowing team from the University of Washington that went to the 1936 Olympics and won gold, against all odds. Fabulous book, available on Kindle for $2.99. Then yesterday I finished a book that had been recommended by another blogger, The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, written in 2011 and awarded the Booker Prize. I've read other Booker Prize winners that I didn't enjoy, but this book really captured my attention. I woke last night thinking about it. It's too close to some of the things I've written about here, the feeling of shame I carry for things I've done in the past. As an old man, the book's protagonist is confronted with a letter he wrote when he was young that altered the course of several lives, and he didn't even remember writing it.
I'm not sure when I became aware of the hurt that can come from unthinking words. See, that's where I'm different now: I think before I speak, rather than saying whatever comes into my head without filtering. It's also possible that the simple fact of getting older, having experienced so much more of life, has made the biggest difference. I also like to think that the younger me wasn't doing what she did out of malice, but because she just didn't know any better. The bull in a china shop syndrome. As hard as I've tried while writing this morning, I can't think of a single event that stands out that I might use as an example. Probably because I really don't want to; it's still painful to look too hard at the Lucy side of my younger self. I'm just grateful that I have changed.
Now that isn't to say that the hurtful thoughts don't still pop into my head, they do, but they stay there, and I don't feel that need to let them out. It makes me wonder, when I sit sipping my coffee at the coffee shop, watching the people in line as they wait, if they too have volumes of unspoken conversations going on inside their heads. Do you sometimes read a book that will remind you of yourself when you were young and thoughtless? Or is it just me?
I suspect that getting older and more circumspect has much to do with the internal changes we experience as we age. That mellowing is real in my own life, that's for sure. That, and the ability to write down my feelings and ponder what my life is all about has helped me to find some understanding of how much I've changed over the years. Memory is a funny thing: I can remember something that happened decades ago as if it were yesterday, but yesterday's events blend together with nothing much standing out. In the 1980s I kept a journal and have those 16 books sitting on my bookshelf. Sometimes I will pick one of them up and open it at random and read what I wrote long ago. Although some things are embarrassing, other moments I see the person I am today coming through.
Just for grins, I went over to the bookshelf and pulled out one of my old journals. I opened it to a page and found an interesting piece from July 1982. It reminds me that I have been addicted to exercising for many years. At the time I wrote it, I was on a four-day-long solo backpacking trip into the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. It astounds me that I have forgotten how long I've been enjoying the outdoors. Here's a nice excerpt to tie together all the threads of this post.
The sun has finally made it over the ridge and in walking around, feeling the joyousness welling up in me for this lovely place. I decided that it is not only possible, but desirable, to do nothing today. Now I wish I had brought my camera, to capture some of the zen scenes: trees growing right out of the rock, tiny trees with great root systems to weather the storms and wind that hit this place all year round.These days I am rarely without a camera. And I don't go out on solo backpacking trips any more, but that was more than thirty years ago! I'm still enjoying being outdoors and transporting my one and only body from place to place. From the past to the present moment, I'm enjoying my life and continuing to grow and learn. I hope you will find some peace and contentment in your own life between now and when we meet again next Sunday. I'm wishing that for myself, too.