Thursday, August 4, 2011

If I didn't know better...

... I would plan to ride tomorrow. I feel positively frisky, today, and although my legs have just enough of a hint of stiffness to reassure me that yesterday wasn't a waste of time, I still feel like I could go out there and burn up the miles (relatively speaking).

But that's the way I felt last week. So I'm waiting until Saturday.

It's wierd. If I want to get in shape, I have to learn to goof off.

In many ways, getting in shape at my age seems to mean going against impulses that served me well in my youth. "Give it your all." "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." (Yeah, and look where that got Nietzsche!) "No one wants to be called a quitter." (That one had me by the throat.) "Do or die." "Don't be a slacker, dead-beat, malingerer, lazybones." "No pain, no gain." I got a million of 'em. And I'm trying to quiet their voices. Because they no longer help. They hinder.

Getting in shape at my age is harder than quitting smoking. It's harder the way as losing weight is harder, because you can't do it cold turkey. You have to monitor and moderate, to stay in touch with your body without giving in to it. Or, rather, giving in to it sometimes, but not always, and knowing when to do which.

"Hard" doesn't mean hard with a clenched jaw. It means living with uncertainty while still accepting responsibility for control. That kind of hard.

To manage those irrelevant exhortations from the past, I like to think of an Italian phrase I came across when reading accounts of British tourists from the early 1800's: "Fa Niente," the Italians loved to say. "Do nothing." The Brits were fascinated by their exaltation of the concept of doing nothing. As they were fascinated by their culture, their art, architecture, and, later, their cars...

Doing nothing obviously resulted in doing a lot.