At the start of this year I looked back and realized that I didn’t do one single physical activity thing last year. Not one. It made me feel bad. Partially for failing to get any exercise, and then also because not getting exercise makes you feel bad.
But then, a couple of weeks after this realization struck me, I was hit with a powerful memory: last year, in the summer, I went kayaking! For an afternoon. I was in a kayak, paddling around.
So I did do some physical activity last year! I got some exercise. Then I realized that if anything, one excursion of moderate physical activity out of 365 days is almost worse than none.
But my malaise extended beyond the exercise thing. Last year, I just did whatever was presented to me. It worked out not bad.
I got to teach improv in Barcelona and Finland, and invited to teach in Corfu this summer. And I’ve got a nice roster of shows I’m producing and hosting here now. Plus I’ve got a few writing clients, I met a bunch of great people… I could go on about all the positive things. But it’s not enough.
Reactivity is no substitute for activity.
In my second year of freelancing, I realize that I need to be less passive and more proactive.
So I’ve started saying no to more things, and seeking out the things I want. I’ve tried to be more positive and engaged, and seem less desperate; In fact I’m trying to be less desperate. And it seems to be working.
And I think the positive professional signs are tied up with the other way I’m being more active: I’m trying to actually do some physical activity.
Last year I was so passive I didn’t even bother being physically engaged. And that physical passivity fed the general attitude, and vice-versa. So I’ve started swimming and doing yoga a couple times a week.
The yoga is fun, though I can’t say that I’ve become a devotee yet. But it’s challenging, yet restful and pleasant. And I can do it on weekdays, so yeah, it’s pretty good.
But the swimming is something else.
In the pool, end-to-end
I’ve never been a good swimmer. It’s not that I’m afraid of the water; it’s just that we’re not really pals. With the exception of the three months that I spent in Hawaii a long time ago, we’ve never spent much time together.
I have a swimming report card from when I was about five. It mentions that my attention wandered and I didn’t seem that engaged. Soon after, the swimming lessons ended.
But now, though I know how to not drown for short bursts of period when I’m in water, I don’t actually know how to swim with any technique or control. Or enjoy it. And so I just generally avoided the water.
But now, as part of being in control of my life and knowing that I need to get exercise, I’ve been going to the pool. And swimming. In a swimsuit with goggles and everything. Trying. feeling uncomfortable. But sticking with it. I’ve even been taking the occasional lesson to get some input into how swimming is supposed to work – the methods that have been tested and tried by generations of swimmers, ever since men learned how to save themselves from drowning, and then actually powering themselves through the water using their arms and legs.
And so once or twice a week I go to the pool and swim some laps. I hate it. But I love how much I hate it. How frustrating and challenging it is. But I’m getting better.
And meeting those physical challenges and seeking out professional ones feed each other. I’m swimming virtuous circles around my passivity.