Today is Sunday, October 2nd, 2011. It would have been my father’s 65th birthday.
He died last year, October 17, 2010. He turned 64 in a persistent vegetative state. I wrote this: Rest in Peace, Arthur G. Young
About this time last year, my big sister and I had given the doctors permission to remove our dad from life support. In fact, the meeting the doctors called happened to be on her birthday. She was a soldier during the whole 2+ month ordeal. Let me tell you.
He had been in the hospital for nearly two months at that point in ICU. No chance of recovery. Hard times. Too much left undone and unsaid.
Many of you know this already, but a friend, Theo, was murdered that August in Baltimore. He was 27?? I want to say 27. Maybe 30, though. I wrote this: Rest in Peace, Theo
I’m not really recommending that you read those. But you know. It’s background reading. And it sets the maudlin tone for this entry.
All of the respective friends and family that were affected by those deaths. It’s staggering. For me, it was a young friend and my father, whom I was getting to know again. Both very premature deaths. In some sense, premature because of choices, lifestyles, and habits. Even addictions. I would like to say that they both deserved better, but “deserve” is a funny word when it comes to life.
What does one do with that? Well, let me stop beating around the bush here.
I landed at the whole strength training and yoga thing because of my state of mind. After a year of good health progress I relapsed last Autumn. I was definitely in a malaise. When Spring came around, though, I was sick of it. I had a need to do something. To get out. Meet people. I mean, I’m generally a lone wolf — I’ve been called a hermit as recently as today — but I was really out of it.
I was looking for more art classes. Then I looked on meetup and figured I’d look at some fitness things since I had regressed and gained some weight back. I signed up for yoga at PIES Fitness and eventually functional strength training at Underground Athlete.
Best decisions I’ve made in a very long time. It’s great to have lost weight and gotten stronger, but there’s something else I’m after in addition to my own mental and physical state. I’ve learned that words are cheap. I can talk until I’m blue in the face to my family about eating habits and stuff and it means nothing.
When they see me every few weeks and see that I’m fitter, it affects them. And when they see themselves in a photo.
I was talking to one of my nephews about obesity and how a lot of people in our family are overweight at best and obese at worst and it causes a lot of the health problems that people have. He said that he didn’t know that I was overweight. The kids think of me as active and strong and all. But according to the BMI, which I know is iffy for a lot of us, I’m obese.
I don’t want them to judge or make fun of big people, of course, but I also don’t want them to think of it as “normal”. I don’t want their notion of healthy to be skewed by the familial environment. I have lost and will lose, I’m sure, too many relatives to weight problems, heart problems, diabetes, smoking, cancers, etc. All things that result from choices.
My mom recently told me that she’s been doing well avoiding sugary foods and exercising. I always love to hear that because, as I told her, I’m not ready to be an orphan. I really am not.
I realize that being fit or even eating “right” isn’t a panacea from disease, but you’ve got to play the odds. And even if I were to contract something horrible, I intend for my quality of life to be primo until the very end.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m going to die working out. Not because I’m being pushed too far or anything. But one of those sneaky congenital heart things. Or the middle aged “yes he exercised a lot but little did he know he had a blockage from previous years of bad habits and it dislodged and then lodged in his brain causing a massive stroke/aneurysm/embollism and he collapsed one hot day doing sprint intervals at the local high school track”.
But you know what? I like to say, “F*ck obesity.” Don’t got time for it. Life’s too short to waste it — or to get shorted twenty years — because of some bullcrap fast food milkshake burger processed industrial pseudofood.
It doesn’t seem like life is temporary, does it? I mean, day to day. Work, play, rest. Most of the time it just seems like this is it and we’ll be here doing it. But sometimes…
Somehow, though, there’s a lot of psychology that hasn’t … changed. Improved. Being rattled by your own mortality, you’d think that would change things. But somehow I’m still the me that needs to evolve. Still introverted. Still somewhat shy. Still regretting all the things I didn’t do and didn’t say. Still missing opportunities. Still avoiding the black hole that is my social life. Still procrastinating with people even though I realize that tomorrow is not guaranteed. What’s up with that?
Not living up to my potential. Not quite. That’s the psychological takeaway.
I made a decision a while ago to focus on getting fit and healthward. It is also a convenience because it allows me to avoid or postpone the social thing, which is the real problem. Taking classes is my way of getting out and about, stepping outside of my comfort zone and meeting new people while I learn new things. I mean, since I hate bars, dread/despise dating, and feel uncomfortable and on high alert in crowded places.
Aside from that, I plan to (hopefully soon) move closer to DC to shorten my commute and be closer to where all my friends and family are. Or just closer to work to minimize my commute so I have some energy left for checking out a show or hanging out during the week. My isolation isn’t intentional. There was a time when I had visitors to my apartment, had a social circle, went out to shows and even played a lot of gigs (mostly jazz).
There is a method to my madness, though. A long term plan.
I’m not a very religious person, per se. I consider myself Christian, although I don’t speak Christian and I believe that we weren’t meant to abandon our intellect as we choose what we believe and how we live. I’m reading through the Bible. Well, it’s being read to me over the course of the year via the Daily Audio Bible podcast. It’s enlightening and confusing at times. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post. One thing I’ve learned for sure: life was rough back in the day. Life is challenging for anyone. But life used to be about survival. You had to work, toil, fight and die for everything you had. If you were peaceful, chances were that someone was going to come and take your stuff, kill and enslave you. And god help you if you were a woman. Good grief.
We are not one dimensional beings. The Bible is not a one dimensional book. Maybe that’s why when you try to beat someone over the head with it, you’ll realize that you’re the one bleeding.
We are the eyes and ears of the Universe. We are an exercise in brevity. We are vulnerable to the machinations of the hubris of empire.
In other words, we get distracted easily by petty things — social networks, TV shows, other people’s lives — when all we really have is each other.
And not for very long.
So what I’m saying is. When I started writing this series of blog entries — LGN for (I Want to) Look Good Naked — it was kind of flippant. And yet brutally honest in a way. Of course, life is about more than looking good (or trying to or working to). It’s about more than feeling good, too. Maybe it’s even about more than finding your purpose.
How about living up to your potential physically, mentally, emotionally? Cultivating your talents and making the most of them for yourself and others?
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) posts.