Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Eternal Now

I started a rigorous fitness regimen six weeks ago. At least five days a week, between 15 and 30 minutes, my workout leaves me struggling for enough air while sweat pours off me like rain.

In just over a week, I have two events where I will be more visible than usual: I’ll meet most of my work colleagues for the first time (I work from home), and I’ll attend the wedding of my nephew.

While I wish I didn’t feel this way, I’d really hoped that my size would have decreased visibly by then. And I’m realizing that isn’t going to be the case. In fact I don’t look different at all; clothes don’t fit me differently. My stomach still protrudes like it’s housing a well-cushioned nine month old fetus, straining against my fat clothes.

As I realized that I would have to attend both of these events just as fat as I was before starting to workout, I felt discouraged and angry.

And as happens sometimes, I heard a message from a very unlikely source that turned out to be just what I needed to hear.

I always try to have some tv shows available that are both drama-free and mood enhancing. One such show is “Big Dreams, Small Spaces.” It’s a British show about regular folks planning and then creating the garden of their dreams – in, as it turns out, small yards.

During one episode, a would-be gardener explained his desire to create a Japanese-inspired garden, and that he struggles to reconcile what the garden will look like when they have created it (young), with the image etched in his mind (fully mature and filled out).

Monty Don, the host and apparently a celebrity in the U.K., gave him this advice:

“You’ve got to know right on the surface that this is going to take years. What you do this year is the beginning. The psychology you need is that you’re not looking at the end product. You’re just looking at today.”

It was rather a poetic thing to say, given the Zen nature of a Japanese garden, and the Zen concept of the Eternal Now: all we have is this moment, right now. And we will alleviate suffering by living our lives, as much as possible, in the here and now; in the Eternal Now.

The message resonated on a deep level. And while I might have dreams and goals, I do myself no favors by keeping my focus on the future. All I have is right now. And in this case, rather than focusing on the shape of my body, I can focus on the fitness.

Today I worked out. I’m proud of myself for that. I like how some of the exercises are feeling easier, how I’m able to push myself harder. I like the feeling of challenging my muscles. I like that exercise is a good way to get out of my head, and to expel some of the anxieties and frustrations that I live with every day. I like that this is making me healthier and more resilient. Today.

Whatever happens to my girth down the road, whether I drop unwanted pounds or even eventually become lean and mean, that is the future and therefore unknowable.

Right now I’m doing something I feel good about. Right now I am making healthy choices. Today.

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