I studied piano for eight years because it was the next best thing to being able to sing. Then I discovered the violin, and loved it for the same reason. But my decision to play French horn in our high school band was based entirely on one consideration–in order to escape the dreaded perils of P.E., one had to be in the band.
T.S. Eliot had a notion that April is the cruelest month, but that quote provides us with conclusive evidence that T.S. Eliot never suffered through one of Mrs. Yancy’s phys ed classes The excitement of starting a new school year, as well as ending it, was always tempered by my dread of what was loftily called the “President’s Physical Fitness Tests”.
This battery of challenges–and I do not use the word battery without reason, consisted of at least six or so “skill -tests” that measured our prowess at such activities as chin-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, the 50-yard dash, and throwing something that I don’t remember. For some odd reason I excelled at the broad jumping and sit ups–but nothing else, and most especially not the 500 yard walk/run, an event that seemed to require a great deal more running than walking.
The result was that even to this day, the word “exercise” carries with it a negative charge, based on the joyless demands of my junior high phys ed classes.
So while I enjoy yoga, Pilates, lifting weights, swimming and walking–I’d just as soon not call them “exercise”.
Unlike the exercises extolled in my much loathed PE classes such as the enumeration of jumping jacks, the physical activities that I enjoy are more zestful and zenful.
Like most people, my biggest bugaboo is stress, the monster in the closet.
Mr. Wu has chosen an extremely stressful occupation. He faces all of the trials any small business owner faces, with a lot of daily hurdles thrown into the mix. He copes with the stress by going to the gym, running, and by going fishing.
The first week of the Wu Food Project I fell short of Mr. Wu’s recommended activity. So although I had not planned on running eight miles like Mr. Wu, I had planned on walking much more than that, and also, I had planned on swimming several hours.
I’d like to do better this coming week, and I hope I am off to a good start with the swim and the walk I took today. Walking around my neighborhood is like connecting with a friend. There is the familiar, and there are surprises.
Today I was especially aware of how many colors of flowers I encountered, and the many shades of green. This is something I have become particularly aware of ever since I began spending more time in the gray, windowless area that is my office. I am not comfortable in a colorless world, and miss the outdoors.
It’s likely that Mrs. Yancy would have found my walk/no run on this September morn a resounding failure to measure up to the standards set by the President’s Physical Fitness plan for America’s young people. But it was a giant step in my goal to walk the walk that Wu walks.
“And look how far we’ve come/ So far from where we used to be/ But not so far that we’ve forgotten/ How it was before”
From September Morn, by Neil Diamond