Aaron Burr, aging, Alexander Hamilton, cats, challenges, commitment, dares, duel, exercise, Herman Melville, Mediterranean Journey, to-do-lists, trainer, triple-dog-dare, Writing
I seem to be bombarded by CHALLENGES of late — exercises, writing this weekly blog, marketing Mediterranean Journey, overcoming mountains of cat hair everywhere. Is it just a sign of our times, or my times at least, that everything on the to-do list seems to have been, all of the sudden, upgraded to a Challenge? Maybe it’s one of the by-products of aging. It’s true that things like running errands and cleaning the house and getting the cat food out of the can and on the floor take on a much more serious consideration than they used to. But they’re not capital “C” challenges. (I hear the cats grumble their disagreement with the last part of that statement.) These are more necessary annoyances in my life that just take more of an effort at 67 to get done than they used to take at 57. Shouldn’t challenges be Very-Big-Deals — like climbing Mt. Everest or finding the cure for Alzheimer’s or finishing a Bachelor’s degree 28 years after you started it (one of my challenges that I’m most proud of to this day). It shouldn’t be day-to-day stuff.
This whole subject matter came up when my Stomach-In, Chest Out-Excellent Trainer presented me with a new set of exercises on Tuesday. In my humble, suffering opinion, she outdid her sometimes-sadistic self on this program. These exercises are really, really hard and, to add to my problem, she tacked on an extra 30 minutes of them. It’s too much, it’s just too much. I thought about using a line on Christina that I remember from a Herman Melville short story called “Bartleby, the Scrivener”. Whenever his boss gave him something to do, Bartleby would answer, “I would prefer not to” and that would be that. It wouldn’t work for her — or for me for that matter.
But, I did let her know how I felt. Even though I know she doesn’t respond well to whiney complaints, I chanced it and told her that I cried the first time I did them. No sympathy was coming my way. She got a smile on her face and said, “It will get better. They’re not hard, they’re challenging!” There’s that word! I’ve been faithfully taking on challenge after challenge after challenge that she’s thrown my way since February. In all those months, I have not missed a single day of exercising. Doesn’t that count for something? But this time I wanted to pick up the “glove” and hand it back to her. (Think of it, if Alexander Hamilton had said to Aaron Burr, “Yo, matey, I don’t think I’ll pick up that glove” he might have had more than his picture on the $20 bill to remember him by.) Isn’t a challenge a dare? Couldn’t I just turn down the dare and tell her that I was not feeling all that keen about this challenge? Or, as my sibs and I did when we were little, I could have double-dared her so that she’d have to do the hour and thirty minutes of exercise every morning. But, knowing Christina, she’d probably triple-dog-dare me and that would be that.
The thing of it is, that I know the consequences of not taking on these particular challenges that I have in my life right now. If I don’t do those 90 minutes of exercise every morning I don’t walk, simple as that and if I don’t walk, then I’ll have to move out of my beautiful, stair-filled home. That’s certainly a motivation, eh? And if I don’t pick up the “glove” of the challenge to do marketing on Mediterranean Journey then I don’t sell any books and all those wonderful words will never be read — not to mention I’ll be stuck with a whole bunch of books on my shelf to remind me of my whimpiness. And, if I don’t take on the challenge of writing a blog every week then I won’t be writing on a regular basis and then I’ll very likely fall back into that grey place of saying, “Am I a writer?” Oh, and finally, if I don’t do something about all that cat hair every week I won’t be able to find a place to do the exercises, keep the books or put the computer to write this blog! So maybe I should move this last one to the top of the list!
Blog Followers: In case you haven’t found the link for ordering Mediterranean Journey: A Young Woman’s Travels Through 1970s Europe, here it is. The book is available worldwide through Amazon.com or, if you want a signed copy, you can order it from me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies are $14.99 + S&H each, or special offer 2 copies for $25 ($US/$CDN)! PayPal, check, money order and cash are all accepted. Great Holiday Gifts!