Yet More Advice-to-Self

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The Race Well Run

digital illustration from a graphite drawingAthletic prowess of any sort is a mystery and source of amazement to me. One doesn’t have to be an Olympian, by a long stretch, to appear nearly godlike to my unskilled and uninformed eye. While I have had moments of physical fitness in my life, they never amounted to anything notable beyond getting me from Here to There and back again.

I think my attention span tends to favor short bursts of intense action rather than sustained practice, just as my brain has always rebelled against both study and studio time over lengthy stretches. When I’m doing a renovation project, it reflects my past days of art gallery installation, which more often than not veered away from the sensible approach of using a full week for the job in favor of three 18 hour days in a row. When I’d end up at 2 a.m. leaning off the twelve-foot ladder to aim the last few lights properly at the artworks, it’s likely no wonder I avoided spending longer periods acting sensible and instead ended up doing everything in a crazy cram-course style.

I know perfectly well that this approach may be inappropriate for these pursuits and is definitely wrong for athletic pursuits, just as well as I know that attempting to draw only in 18-hour sessions for three days straight and then take a nice six-week holiday before coming back, literally, to the drawing board would be ridiculous. So, considering that I have such a direly miniscule attention span for anything but what I love the most, it’s no shock that something I’m truly lousy at and ill-equipped with the strength, speed or grace to perfect has rarely been (and is unlikely to become) a long-term pursuit of mine.

This–along with the few paltry attempts at athletic activities that I have made over the years–explains quite readily why I both admire great acts of physical prowess and art and find them completely alien, athlete and action alike. Yes, I have pressed a few weights, swum a lap or ten, leapt hurdles, rowed against the current, placekicked the pigskin, arm-wrestled, done pushups and pullups and situps, and run a fair number of miles in my time, among other things. But unless I have to do any of it again to save my life, I’d ever so much rather watch someone who genuinely loves being an Action Figure do all the work, and do it ever so much better than I ever could. After all, though I’m no athlete I am a very skilled and enthusiastic spectator, and all sorts of artists deserve a good audience. That way we all get a chance to rise to the level of our highest potential.

Pontius Pilates, or Why I Only Exercise Out of Guilt

Three guesses, my friends. I’ve tried. Not as sincerely as necessary, apparently, because it never ‘took’. I just haven’t found that magic needful item called genuine motivation, let alone gotten any joy from the thing called athletic pursuit. I’m absolutely unable to come to grips with how people get pleasure from exercise.

Never did.

Yes, I get the payoff part, but it’s only by forcibly dragging my horrendously unwilling carcass through the misery of the activity part that I’ve ever been able to even glimpse the answer to that part of the equation. As it happens, I will admit to always having been that classic playground target, the weenie. I am sufficiently strong and graceful–just–to not topple over in a severely mortifying heap of near-death simply from attempting to stand up from a prone or seated position. Possibly I’d still do the human-origami thing if heavily medicated or, okay, actually nearing death, but gimme a break. What I’m saying is more that I swim in the mainstream of the ever-popular Last Person Chosen for every team. And with good reason, mind you. I never kidded myself that I should be bumped up higher on the roster. Got no skills, no nacherl-born talent, no passion for it all. As the deep right fielder for the Bad News Bears* I would be benched in .006 seconds. In right fielder capacity I at least approach minimal lawn bowling skills, but really, not so much. That would be too much like utility in the athletic performance department. Even considering that mad skills for the bowl-o-rama are somewhat less helpful on the baseball field than a hapless weenie might vainly hope.

I found my moments of being nominally adjacent to modest, passable skill in a couple of Physical Education instances. It was only by gritting my teeth through the years of garden-variety youthful humiliations ranging from the mere catcalls and snide showoff-ness of insecure high-level school hotshots that, as usual, are low-level schoolyard bullies to being demonstrably stinky all on my sweet self’s own. My Moments, unfortunately, were also in areas of athletic endeavor that could be easily construed as marginal and/or distinctly useless in the way of getting one, say, a scholarship or a smidgen of popularity. While I was never hungry for the latter, it could possibly have saved my parents a buck or two if I could’ve latched on to the former before high school matriculation.

Not a lot of recruiters drool after modestly successful junior high football kickers (female), nearly-good dilettante archers, hurdlers and high jumpers that jump only So High, and swimmers whose main skill is subduing strugglers in Life-Saving 101. And of course it would have been pointless, since as I may have previously averred, I simply dislike sports-related stuff of nearly every kind. So I’d have a bit of difficulty maintaining any scholarship anyone was dopey enough to bestow on me, don’tcha know.

I will continue to press myself to overcome my natural aversion to motion and activity. I’m aware that my chances of continued living, let alone healthy and happy living, depend on my acquiescence in that, and lord knows I’d love if I accidentally found something healthful that I liked doing along the way. Anybody hear the Exercise Good Fairy flitting nearby?

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Only getting frightfully old will exempt me from working toward physical fitness, so maybe I'd best just make peace with decrepitude . . .

* Bad News Bears: a film I will happily admit to never having willingly or knowingly seen even 2 minutes of, but that I know from secondary sources to be an appropriate reference point for my own grotesque ineptitude on the baseball diamond. If you need further confirmation of my level of baseball skill and knowledge, feel free to ask any person that has had any contact lasting longer than the aforementioned 2 minutes with me and I’m quite certain they can vouch for me on it.