Monday, July 22, 2013

Embrace Your Lazy (Do you run the Preserve or Stairs?)

Today is Monday. It's the day when most people decide to take themselves to the office. Thusly, commuter traffic is worse on Monday than any other day of the week. Today is also the first day after the weekend. The worst day to go to the gym during 'peak' times - early morning or after work - because it's the day you feel bad about the sins of the weekend and sort of recommit yourself to I'M GOING TO BE HEALTHY THIS WEEK!

Diet plans go into effect on Mondays. People smile less on Monday. We are actually least productive at work on Mondays (statistically, you only get 3.5 hours of work done).

Last week I went for a run at our local forest preserve. During warmer months, I take as many opportunities as I can to run in the preserve. Not only do I get a better workout and reconnect with our great green mother, it's a gathering place for all the most fit and beautiful men in the area. This particular preserve is known by the body building and fitness community for its ridiculously high stone staircase and they will travel as far away as from the city to come and run the stairs.

Side note: I tried the "running the stairs" style workout... I think I ran it twice, half-hearetedly jogged it a couple more, and wheezed like a cancerous lung breathing through an oboe for another three. That joke is very funny if you were ever in band.

When I got out of my car, I saw Adonis reborn. A greek god with tan skin and smooth, beautiful muscles. A body I immediately desired and envied. Brought me down a few notches on exactly how good I thought I looked in my running shorts. (I went from an 8 to about a 4 in my mind.) The guy wasn't there to run in the preserve. He was a a stair workout kind of guy. And, I could have told you that before I even saw him sprint like a gazelle up the sheer quarter mile cliff of stone stairs as though it were the easiest task ever. I could have told you that, because of the aforementioned body that would make the statue of David want to do a few more crunches.



But, do you know what that guy was doing before he sprinted up the stairs? Lifting giant kettlebells. Lifting them fast, with perfected form. Then, he moved on to opening this giant canvas bag he'd brought (that just sounded heavy) and removed a set of huge iron spikes. He picked up a sledgehammer and began hammering the spikes into the ground.


He. Was. Hammering. Spikes. Into. The. Ground. For. Exercise.

And in between sets of kettlebell swinging and spike hammering and whatever other feats of physical excellence he was planning on doing, he sprinted those stairs.



It wasn't easy for him. He was breathing steady, but deep. He was sweating. He was working very, very hard.

And, I had to decide something about myself in that moment. Yes, the guy was gorgeous, and that's fun to look at, but I had to decide exactly how envious of him I was. Was he doing anything that I couldn't do? Nope. Could I, too, bring a set of weights with me to the preserve and slowly increase my own fitness to that same level? I could definitely try.

It's not like I'm not active. I work out. Lift weights. Do cardio. But, there's just a level of dedication to diet and truly lifting the heavy weights with laser pointed precision and increasing the weight to a level where it's not just toning but actually building muscle. Basically, I know that I'm not working out hard enough to look like that. And, I know that I have the youth, the ability, and the knowledge to work out like that.

So, how jealous or envious of that body do I actually get to be? There's no reason why I can't be at that fitness level except for my love of pizza and deciding that sometimes I only want to run 3-4 miles...or that "doing abs" at the gym consists of 100 simple, plain, vanilla crunches. Enough to say I 'did abs', but nowhere close to the workout I'd need to 'get abs'.

All of this made me immediately think of the online pagan community. I thought of bloggers and podcasters whose craft I very much envy. Sarah Lawless was the first person that came to mind. She is sort of famous around the internet for being the witch that every witch wishes he or she could be. I thought of other people who live their spirituality as though it weren't something they were doing, but an integrated part of their being - Mrs. Oddly & Cory Hutcheson. People like Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt who decided they wanted their pagan path to take prominence and then did that. They formed their life into their spiritual path and don't distinguish the two.

While I was running my miles in the preserve, I asked myself... Do I truly know less than these other people? Well, yes, in many ways I lack some factual knowledge, because I haven't put in the time that these other people have. But, is my intellect any less? Do I honestly not know where to go to gain that information? Do I honestly not know what meditation is, how to do it, or that incorporating it into my daily routine would probably greatly improve my connection with self and the divine?

Basically, am I less than these other people? And, I think the answer is no. The big difference is that I do not put the effort into my practice or my biceps the way that these other people do. As Velma might say, I know the stuff to do, but I'm not doing it all. I'm doing some of it.

So, I think what I'm saying is that, if you're fine with your current level of physical or spiritual fitness, then there's no reason to be envious of others. You're doing exactly as much as you want to do. Should you ever desire to do more, you absolutely have those tools. There isn't any grand secret to having abs. You're not born with them. You're not born with an encyclopedic knowledge of sigils or spirits or ceremonial magic. You just have to decide that your free time isn't free. That your workouts should go a bit beyond. That your research should be more voracious, delving a little deeper.

There are much better painters and sketch artists out there. And, I could be better if I spent my off days doing art. I could perfect my sorely lacking knowledge of hermeticism. I could increase the number of crunches I do, the heaviness of the weights I life.

But, I'm healthy, do art that I love, and am trotting along my spiritual path at a level that I currently find acceptable. So, I can relieve that envy a bit. I can be satisfied and content.

However, just today, I might just try the stairs.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

6 comments:

  1. I have moments of practice envy, I definitely admit that. What gets me over it is that I look at my life when I do and see what other things I do (instead of devoting time to my practice) that I find value in.

    I have a husband and son (neither of which share my beliefs), and while they both accept who I am and some of the (in their mind) 'crazy' things I do around the house, I am not going to force them to do every last thing in a way that would be 'ultimate Pagan practice'.

    Spending time with my family pretty much never involves things that are directly related to my practice...and is absolutely something I would not want to give up. Being able to look at my life in terms of "things I love to do" instead of "why can't I be like ..." makes it a lot easier to deal with envy for me.

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  2. I've opined on a similar train of thought a while ago. How much effort do you want to put into something, and to what end? In my opinion, magic should be about being more effective in life, and should augment it, not rule it. Enlightenment is meaningless if you're miserable because you're living in your parents' basement at 40.

    Some further thoughts: http://blacklightmetaphysics.com/2013/07/22/acheivement-focus-and-purpose/

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  3. This is a really good, thoughtful piece. I'm absolutely flattered to be included in the company of Mrs. Oddly and Sarah, by the way, but I DEFINITELY get practice envy from time to time when I talk to folks who practice at a deep, constant level (like both those you mentioned, and many more besides). I always feel deficient upon an initial encounter with someone who can recite an Homeric hymn to Demeter at a moment's notice or read tarot with the level of precision and intuition shown by people like Cat Yronwode or your own dear Liz.

    What this reminds me of is something I face in a lot of other areas of my life: impostor syndrome. The feeling that I'll be found out as a fraud because I haven't read ALL the right books, or because I missed reading X article by Y scholar in Z journal. It hits me in a lot of areas, including my work with folk magic, literature, and even the exercise that you use as an introduction to this article (every time I watch a superhero movie, I feel compelled to add new exercises to my routine).

    For the most part, I'd like to say I combat the feelings of inadequacy with grace and calm, reaching a point of acceptance without rationalizing as you do in your description above. I'd like to say I can remember that I have some unique insights and talents that I can offer and that knowing that is enough. I'd like to say a lot about my envy/anxiety, but in the end I know I seldom have the ability to simply accept where I am. In a way, it's good, because it motivates me, drives me to do more and be more as much as possible. But it also involves feeling guilty and defeated if I choose to watch a movie one evening when I haven't done work on the Etsy shop, cartomancy book, website, academic book reviews, grad school applications, magical work, home canning, coven classes, extended runs, weight training, reading lists, etc. that eat up my non-family time. That's not a good thing, but it's where I am anymore, and I think it's what I've got to work with. I hope at some point to be able to make the kind of peace with my ambition, envy, and boundaries that you have made here.

    Thanks for a great article, and for offering a place to share these thoughts!
    -Cory

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    1. (also, just to be clear, in the sentence "I'd like to say I combat the feelings of inadequacy with grace and calm, reaching a point of acceptance without rationalizing as you do in your description above", my intended meaning was that you combat the feelings with grace and calm, NOT that you rationalize...that could have been a much better structured sentence. Apologies for any confusion)

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  4. I am truly humbled. Thank you for including me amongst other lighthouses of witchcraft in your thoughts. Knowing you has made my life smile in places I didn't know I had.

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  5. Yes I am agree with you that Monday is one of the most bad day of the week, we often feel dizzy and lazy in morning and this Monday become worst in winter. It become so difficult to get out of the bed and go for gym and then to office that it feels very bad but we have to do what ever the condition it is. So in the morning i used to take supplementary products with juice which provide me an extra energy boost to the body. This energy drink is useful in my gym as well as i take second dose which help me to remain active in my office.

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