I am indebted to Barbara Foerder and to Elizabeth Russell and to
Arthur Pufford who inspired this conversation.
It's the exception to the rule. I hadn't exercised in about a month.
Prior to that I
Twice a day. Half an hour in the morning. Half an hour in the evening.
A mile each session. Two miles a day. And more. For eight months.
My routine was interrupted by a bout of flu. I hardly ever get like
that. The last time I got like that was eight years before this then
ten years before that. I stayed in bed a day or two which interrupted
my twice a day exercise routine. When the times came to exercise, my
body said "I need rest - I need
and I believed it. It seemed to be a reasonable request to me. However
once I was up and about again I noticed my body had taken on the new
routine, urging me to go to bed early and to
late. It still kept a routine. It had superseded the exercise routine
A month flew by. Go to bed early.
late. No exercise.
Although I think it's smart health care to listen to your body,
one evening I'd had enough. So in defiance I went to the pool to
again. On seeing it my body leaped and rejoiced to be back. The kid had
returned to the toy store. It purred its renewed romance with the water
as rapidly restrengthening arms, shovelling water aside, pulled it
through lap after lap after lap.
The next morning I was awakened at 3:00am by my body chanting "Let's go
in the pool - Let's go
in the pool" in exactly the same way as it had just been saying for a month "I
need rest - I need
even when it was way beyond needing rest and
as a matter of basic health and recovery.
After not exercising in about a month I'm now back to my twice a day
exercise routine - just like that. It seems as if whatever routine I
feed my body, that's what it then wants. The trick therefore is not to
break the routine nor to let it perpetuate its rackets like "I need
rest - I need
especially when it's clear it's running a racket. It's a bluff.
The bluff will be in place until it's no longer in place. You've got to
call the bluff then change the bluff. Bluff the body it needs exercise
rather than bluffing it it needs
That then is the routine it will want.
And as I've said before, my promise to exercise twice a day is a bigger
promise than I keep. Yet I promise it anyway. I almost
keep it but the truth is I don't keep it exactly. The point here is
that my body is enrolled in it. As long as I stay living inside that
promise now that I've called its bluff, my body is aligned with it.
What I get from observing this episode is the distinction between my
biological physicality, and my intention. I also get I - not my body -
am the master of the routines I adhere to, and that while both are OK
and are valuable, I choose to
as a routine.