Monday, August 19, 2013

Just Did It 

link to New York Times Topics on Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami, author and spiritual leader of runners around the world. Image via New York Times
“As we're finding out, there are a lot worse things in life that we "just have to do"…”
As Nike implores us to "just do it", I just did it. Don't know why I did it? Not sure how I did it? I did it with a nagging headache. I did it without much preparation or training. I did to forget I was wasting my vacation. I did it to not think about other things. I did it to ignore my parents' health. I did it to ignore strife in the world. I did it to avoid my grossly messy apartment. I did it to avoid taxes. I did it to avoid other people. I did it to avoid the fact there were no other people to avoid anyway. I did it to make up for wasted time, as if it wasn't just wasting time in a different way.

What did I do? That thing where you swim 1.5 km then bike 40 km then run 10 km. In a row. In succession. One after another. Olympic triathlon distances, though not "Ironman" by any means. You know what? It wasn't even that hard. Still, stopping felt good. The burrito and chocolate ice cream afterwards felt good. I don't think my time for any of it was very impressive. 32 minutes of swimming, 1 hour and 41 minutes of biking and 59:32 minutes of running. What is that? 3 hours and 12 minutes or thereabouts. Something like 2500 calories. Oddly, I think a 100 km bike ride is harder. I feel more "done in" by that.

I guess I'm sort of proud of myself. I want to brag about it, but it doesn't feel that brag-worthy. I'm still woefully overweight and out of shape, or at least the shape I'm in is more "out" than "in". Tonight, after seeing the movie Blue Jasmine, I walked out of the theatre and through a shuttered mall with hallways lined with mirrors. I saw my reflection and I can't say I liked what I saw.

Seeing my unlikable reflected self reminded me of the author Haruki Murakami's description of standing naked in front of a mirror and making a mental list of everything he hated about his body. What did I see? An unshaven, tired, balding man, with poor posture, looking older than his years, dressed like a grad student after an all-nighter. A shabby schlub. A shell. No one of any particular interest or of exception. Not a person of substance. Unsubstantial, you might say.

I don't even know the point I'm trying to make except, even if we "just do it" can we ever really "do" anything about who we fundamentally are? Even if we change the shape of this mortal coil, can we "do" anything about the undercarriage that carries the frame? So what if I were to remake my image, can I really change my character or my nature? Why can't I become the person I want to be? Who is the person I want to be and why is he that much better than the one I am? Am I just being too self-critical, or not self-critical enough?

Sometimes I feel there is a darker "me" sort of lurking behind me, taunting me, judging me, arguing with me. Not a cheer leader but more of a "jeer" leader. He's kind of a jerk and a pessimist. But in the end he is the one saying, "Go ahead, just do it. I doubt you can." Sometimes he's right but it's nice to prove him wrong occasionally.

As we're finding out, there are a lot worse things in life that we "just have to do", which means this one doesn't really compare.

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