Hmm. I'm obviously moved enough to come here and log in, but I can't honestly say I meant to post anything in particular. I can't decide if this inability to get behind any particular concept is a sign that I'm feeling content with my life, or if it's a symptom of a particularly bad bout of depression--one so bad that I can't even tell I'm suffering it.
I'm inclined to think it's the former, rather than the latter. It's not like I don't give a shit about things. I think at least part of it is a sense that the things that do
get me all exercised these days are probably a little played, or at least of limited interest to other people.
For example: I'm really into cycling these days. I'm not a huge rider,* but I get in something around 70 miles in a good week. There's obviously lots to say about cycling, but I wonder how much there really is to hear
about it if you're not already a fan. The experience of riding a bike is certainly a widely-shared one, but as common as it is for people to have ridden a bike, it's apparently quite uncommon to ride one the way I do. I'm not saying that I'm this great cyclist who trains harder than other cyclists--if the discussion boards are any indication, I'm a very casual rider by mad amateur cyclist standards--but it's become clear to me that most people, even people who ride regularly, seldom go out and hammer for 16 miles for a quick evening ride, and go on such a hard ride on the weekend that they're fucked for the day by 10AM. I don't ride a bike--I train. For what I'm not sure, but it's always been that way for me and sports.
I think it may have something to do with the fact that I never had more than a passing interest in sports until I started swimming competitively in high school. I've never really done sports in a situation where it's totally casual. Oh sure, I've been known to play a pick-up game of this or that, but I've almost always got an obsessive sport on the side. I'm not happy on a bike unless I'm working pretty hard. I don't much care for being in a pool unless I'm doing laps. I don't care much about motorcycles or cars unless I can race them. Martial arts was destined to be either a lifestyle or something I used to do--nothing in between.
Part of this is probably related to my thing about being exceptional--I may not be better at sports than lots of folks, but I'm certainly capable of being just as obsessive as the worst of them. Nothing exceeds like excess, after all.
Another part is probably this addiction I have to what I call the "learning experience." I'm not sure exactly when I decided that this was my thing, but it comes down to the idea that you can learn things about yourself (and maybe others) in moments of extremity that you can't learn any other way. Pushing my limits is getting to be a real thing for me. I don't want to injure myself, and don't do things when they aren't fun anymore, but my idea of fun has gotten a little extreme.
The big question, I guess, is whether or not this is a bad thing. It's certainly true that I've had my share of serious, or at least nagging, injuries from my pursuits. Of course I also have a resting heart rate of 47 and can lug my big ass and a bicycle around a 32 mile course in 2 hours. And I know that I can do things I thought I couldn't, things most people think they can't. I know that my handicaps** aren't really all that big a deal, and that when the chips are down, I can keep going. Not because I'm in shape, but because I know that I have the will. I think most people have it, and (probably because I'm an extremity addict) I lament that they probably don't know it. If everybody had a chance to get out farther than they think they can swim back from, go too hot into a hairpin corner, or ride out into the country so far that they HAD to ride up that mile-long hill if they wanted get home, I think somehow this would be a better world. By scaring yourself
shitless, you can find out what a strong person you really are, and how could that be bad?
So as usual, I'm managed to take a whole lot of nothing, a rejected essay idea even, and turn it into a fairly long screed. It ain't great art, and probably doesn't go far enough or deep enough, but hey--you got your money's worth.
*OK--at my size, I'm pretty much a huge anything in whatever I take up, except maybe football or sumo. On the biking side, being 6 feet tall is already huge, and when you add in that I go well over 220 lbs, I am a huge rider. But we all know that's not what I mean.
**Minor stuff, really--comically bad feet, treacherous kidneys, etc.--but they've occasionally kept me from doing my things.