Last Monday, I provided some pithy and sage insight to get us revved up for 2023. (If you missed it, it was truly a literary tour de force; if you did have the opportunity to read it, you’ve no doubt identified my ability to massively overestimate both my literary and philosophic abilities.)
At any rate, in last week’s essay, titled “Resolute,” I gave my “hot take” on things like why I’m not sure how I feel about the Monday observance of a holiday when the actual day of note falls on a Sunday; how and why New Year’s resolutions fail, and other hard-hitting timely topics related to the turning of the calendar from one annum to the next. (I feel using terms like “annum” in place of “year” makes me sound wiser.)
Shortly after writing last week’s masterpiece, I decided – not because it was a resolution, but rather, because it’s part of my daily routine – to get some exercise.
With temperatures in the 30s and not much wind (a veritable January heat wave where I live), I decided to hit the road for a brisk morning run. (NOTE: in this instance, “brisk” describes the weather, not the pace of the runner.)
Within minutes, I’d changed into proper outerwear for just such an activity, hit “start” on my 1990s vintage digital sport watch (no iWatch or Fitbit for this guy), and broke into an easy trot before stepping it up a notch.
Within a block, I realized the mild weather, combined with some moisture in the air, had made the roads and sidewalks extremely slippery, which led me to slide to a stop and consider if I wanted to continue. After a brief consultation with my wrists, hips and skull -- the things I felt I were most likely to break if I continued – we decided it wasn’t worth the risk of soldiering on, and I slowly and carefully slid back home.
Now indoors, I passed the coffee maker, and that made me consider staying in, enjoying another cup and maybe doing some reading. But I didn’t. Instead, I opted for Plan B, this time changing into shorts and a t-shirt. Minutes later, car keys and duffel bag in hand, I was headed to the gym for an indoor workout. Before leaving, I grabbed my “gym glasses” (an older pair I wear while working out because I don’t want to risk scratching the lenses of my favorite “don’t these make me look smart?” glasses), only to realize the frame had broken.
Again, I thought to myself, “Do I really want to do this, or is it a sign to stay home?” Deciding the glasses weren’t a deal-breaker, I grabbed an even older pair and headed for the car. Soon, I was checking in at the gym, ready to “get my sweat on.” (I just realized how much I despise that phrase, but I don’t want to spend time replacing it with something better … or pithier so we’ll live with it.)
For some reason, I decided the morning’s workout would take place on a treadmill. I say “for some reason” because I’ve had no fewer than three documented, relatively public treadmill accidents in my life, all ending in varying degrees of hilarity but luckily, no major injuries (except to the ego). Two involved eyewitnesses, and all (I’m sure) were recorded and archived on security cameras. (‘Nuff said about that topic.)
“Hey, it’s a new year,” I thought, “why not give the treadmill another try?” So, I did, carefully placing my new water bottle – which is larger than a normal, sporty water bottle but smaller than what I’d call a “jug” – in the machine’s assigned water bottle holder.
Finally ready to begin, I hit some buttons to activate the treadmill, and soon I was operating at a healthy trot (think something between walking your dog and trying to escape a vicious rabid dog) and feeling good.
After a couple of minutes, I noticed my “non-standard” water bottle/jug was jostling around in its holder. I could tell it wasn’t comfortable with its surroundings, so I went to grab it, and just before I got a grip on it, it popped out of the holder, hit the treadmill (which caused the top to fly off), and shot off the back onto the floor, spilling a LOT of water on the floor and causing a bit of collateral damage by spraying the person on the machine behind me.
At first, I was frustrated, but again, with my “New Year, new you” attitude (seriously, why am I using all these lame catch phrases today?), I took a moment to laughed to -- and at -- myself, profusely apologized to the woman on the machine behind me (she was cool about it, also laughing with – and at – me), and used a couple of small workout towels to clean up the scene.
Again, I had a decision to make: bag it all and head home or continue? I mean, after the slippery roads, the broken glasses, the coffee maker staring me in the eye, daring me to pass by without making a cup, and then, after spilling an entire day’s worth of hydration onto the gym floor, no one would have blamed me if I’d have decided to cash it in and live to fight another day, right?
But I’d come this far, over hill and dale, through hell and high water, and after all that, all I could think was, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger … push on friend.” (Oh my god, I can’t stop with the cliches!)
And push on I did, setting the empty water bottle and sodden workout towels off to the side, and again, remounting the treadmill. Once back “on pace” and with my favorite workout music playing through my headphone, something didn’t feel right. It wasn’t my legs or lungs; they were pumping in rhythm and feeling good. It was my shoulders. They felt tight, not sore or achy, just not normal. As I looked down, I didn’t see something on my shirt that should have been there on my chest.
The shirt’s logo.
My shoulders felt weird because I was wearing my shirt backwards. Again, all I could do was laugh at myself and soldier on.
I’d love to claim that this anecdote offers an insightful, pithy way to say, “Don’t let a few setbacks get in the way of your goals,” but it's not. It's just how things happen to -- and because of -- me all the time.
An hour later, I had worked out, apologized to – and laughed with – the woman on the treadmill behind me for a second time, and I was back in the car headed for home to observe the Monday after a Sunday holiday. But for me it wasn’t special, inspirational or contemplative; it was just another day in my clumsy, random life.
And I loved it.
P.S. Five minutes after I wrote this, I knocked a full cup of coffee off my desk ... dead serious.
© 2023 David R. Haznaw