Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Living for today vs. Keeping up a routine

Tonight I am going to dinner with a friend that I haven't seen in awhile. I am pretty stoked about it. I can't wait to catch up with her and see how life is now that she and her husband have moved into their new house (they are such adults!!!), how she is liking her new job, and just what all is going on with her.

However, when she first messaged me and asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner, I have to be honest and say I first thought "No, not really." Why? It's not because I don't want to see her -- I absolutely do. It's because the time she proposed is during my water aerobics/aqua abs classes. A little context: this friend lives further away than she used to (about 30-45 minutes vs. 10 minutes) and things are just busier because of the school year, her new job that is further away, etc. She is going to be in town tonight so getting together at the time she proposed is probably one of the best (and most likely) times for us to actually get together....but I do have to admit that I had to think about whether I wanted to meet her for dinner or go to water aerobics when she first extended the invitation.

She won out and, after I thought about it, it is silly that I even had to think about what to do. There are other types of exercise available to me besides water aerobics (WA), available at other times than the one she proposed. Sure, WA is my favorite and yes, I do have lots of friends in the class now but honestly that happens 4-5 times a week and the opportunities I have to get together with this friend occur far less frequently. She wins, hands down :)

I relate this story not because the story is so important or insightful. It's pretty mundane, actually. However, I believe that this illustrates something broader that I am struggling with. I feel like I have (for the most part) the exercise thing down -- I have a routine, I enjoy it, and I am seeing results there. I am in much better shape and I love working out. I am pretty afraid to deviate from my exercise routine because I don't want to mess things up.

However if I cling to this routine without flinching, life will pass me by and that would be so tragic! I need to be willing to let go of the routine sometimes, even when it is scary and realize I am strong enough to get back into the routine.

I realized all of this as a result of an experience that I had this summer. I went kayaking one day. It had rained in the morning but had gotten nicer by about 11 AM, which is actually perfect as it raises the level of the river and then allows you to kayak in the sunshine once the rainy weather has cleared. It is also perfect because the waterfalls are way more beautiful/active after some fresh rain. I didn't realize this all when I set out to kayak but it was a happy accident :)

Anyhow, I decided to take a side trip on the kayak trip to hike to go see Hemmed in Hollow which is the tallest waterfall between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Since it had rained the trail was muddy. I made it most of the way up the trail but it got too slippery for me to feel comfortable hiking alone, so I turned back short of making it to the top. I was disappointed, but -- hey -- it happens.

When I got back to the river, I met some hikers who asked if I had made it to the falls. I explained that I had not because I thought the trail conditions were too scary. They told me about an alternate (safer, less scary) route. I was intrigued and asked how long they thought they route would take. They told me and I decided against taking it because if I did, I wouldn't make it back in time for water aerobics class that evening.

In retrospect -- WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING?!?!? The decision I made was absurd. I did water aerobics almost every day it was offered this summer. Hemmed in Hollow is about 2 hours from my house, the conditions were perfect to see the falls, I had stumbled into being in the right place at the right time, and the waterfall is much much much more easily accessible from the river than via other trails (something like 1 mile hike from the river vs. 8 miles on land) so it is not like I could just hike this again later from the land. Furthermore, it's not like I needed to get back to WA because I had sat on my butt all day and needed the workout: I was working hard paddling for about 4 hours and had hiked up huge hills to try to see the falls! However, I made the decision to go to water aerobics which meant I did not see Hemmed in Hollow. I did have a good time at WA and got a great workout and everything, but afterwards I realized how stupid my decision was.

I do have to say, that was a good learning experience for me though. I realized I need to really not let opportunities pass me by. If they are good opportunities, I should snag them because such opportunities are not easy to come by. WA (or whatever other routine thing I am passing up) will still be there when I get back.

It's obvious, though, by my story today that I am not able to immediately spot good opportunities right away yet. If I was, I would have said yes in a heartbeat when I got an invitation to go to dinner with a good friend. Instead, I had to think about it. I know I am making progress, though, because I ultimately made the right decision and I can't wait to see her tonight. Next time I am on the river, I am going to hike to see Hemmed in Hollow for sure. Nothing will stop me, not even water aerobics-induced time constraints :)

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