Walking into the woods

five of thirty

“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

poolThe A1C was high.  To a diabetic, that’s a hard line.  This week’s efforts were good, with three eleven mile bike rides, two swims. Still not getting my food right.  I know that’s more important than the exercise. Working on it though, have some buffalo broth in the crock pot.

The yard is in disarray.  It’s rainy enough and still warm enough, that I can’t keep up with the mowing. It’s time for cutting back and cleaning up leaves. It’s time to let things go.  All the while I’m moving into  a winter training mindset – so from the being out of control end of summer splurge to the point of dealing with harder weather. I’m getting ready to answer the wet darkness and hours of boredom with physical effort.

It’s easy to get scared of this phase -the rebuilding.

Last years goal setting and achieving are past.  The days of letting go are past too.  I guess somehow they roll together.  Can’t come off of sustained effort without some type of off season.

But that sports and season analogy only goes so far.  When we’re talking about building habits, then the off season can’t be a hedonistic off season.  All the effort that went into not doing, or having, or consuming things turns back on itself.  The energy stops being about constraint, about not doing. It becomes doing, it becomes hunger. I let it run. I do what the fuck I want to do.  At some point, some year, when the issue is building habits to carry one through life, then the energy during building phases shouldn’t be about “not” having or doing, it should be about layering in the cool, healthy and happy skills.  Note to self.

But we all know the cyclist who gains too much weight in the off season, the athlete who gets too far out of shape. Where’s the balance?

At the end of the day I do what I want.

Yes, it’s the kind of “I’m going to eat all those strawberries” kind of want. On the edgier side, it’s even “I’m going to drink all that beer” kind of want. I do it. Many do. At my age the main weaknesses are fried foods and ice cream. Owning that is something I’m learning. Maybe too much.

There’s a status that goes along with the ability to just fucking enjoy yourself that comes from resiliency, being unaffected. The status of the unaffected: You relax; you get curious about what’s around, maybe chuckle at the reactions of the uninformed. Nice, yeah. But when the status is tied to consumption, to unbalance in the self. Maybe it’s not really unaffected. Maybe it’s too much.

Too much, because there’s a entire other part of me that loves being in control, that loves quiet strength and elegance. This is the side of constraint. I want that side too. And the displayed power of striding through the world, taking and doing what I want, needs to be balanced. It needs to be framed with the inner power of a equally strident conscious choice to not get lost to ecstasy, to pleasure.

And as I write that, I know there’s screams going off all over the place. People will feel the need to say “life is for living! Life is for enjoying!”

Time for a note, to say I choose to not get lost to ecstasy, or pleasure, is not to say that either is good or bad.  It’s not to say that I don’t. It may be closer to saying I’m not going to turn left all the time just because it feels good. Sometimes I need to turn right because that’s where I need to go. Sometimes I need to turn right to know what that feels like. But more importantly, the message I’m trying to convey here is that I need a steering wheel. I need the gears, and cogs and hydraulics and electrical current and struts and bars … all the pieces that enable either turn to happen.

Once I have that, I don’t really care about making any kind of judgement on the relative merits of being hedonistic or being Spartan. I’m both.

Which direction I turn, towards a mind blowing pleasurable experience, or towards the control that’s needed to achieve anything else I want (and mainly in this regard I want self protection or improvement) … which direction I turn is really irrelevant. I need a steering system. I need to be able to eat when I want, drink when I want, meditate and be quiet when I want, run, climb, swim, bike, fuck, snuggle and cross a fucking desert, when I want.

When you’re dealing with illness, and life starts limiting you, that stands out sharply, with edges that cut. I want choice.

What that takes is to sometimes hold back, definitely to hold back from self destructive tendency, and to sometimes let go. Sometimes I have to run off cliffs to find them – just not twice.  This isn’t hard stuff. It’s what they could’ve taught us in junior high.