Friday, February 15, 2008
Reach for the stars
So there I was, ten minutes early for my gym-yoga class (it's not the real thing, but it's cheap) . Sitting there in the pleasantly dark quiet room I had a good stretch and contemplated the recent misery that was a four mile run I had just barely completed. Hamstrings, quads, can I really endure this? Calves, glutes, really, I just don't see it happening.
The doors opened, and he walked in like he owned the place: Gym-yoga man. He gave me a long-enough-to-be-mildly-awkward look and an almost-too-genuine-to-be-real smile, then whooshed his mat down in his usual spot, right at the front of the room, right in the center. He took off his shirt, revealing a lithe, sinewy torso and had a seat.
A few minutes later, our instructor joined us. She's not a bad instructor, especially for gym-yoga, and has a nice calm voice and face. She walked to the front of the room and began setting herself up for the class. Despite wearing only bike shorts and a tiny camisole, she didn't look provocative--she's just little.
Gym-yoga instructor and Gym-yoga man started talking to each other. She asked "So, you going to do it this year?" He responded "Oh, I'm not sure...I did it last year, or was that the year before?" It soon became clear to me that they were talking about the Salt Lake Marathon, which will be on April 19 this year. It seemed from their conversation (upon which I was unabashedly eavesdropping, don't judge me) that they had both run it before, liked the course, etc. As they continued, I became convinced that they run marathons every fortnight. "Did you do the St. George?" "Oh, yeah, a couple of times. So many hills!" "Uh-huh! But not as bad as Park City, I've done that one twice." It seemed like they weren't even quite sure how many marathons they had run, poor dears.
I was, needless to say, incredulous. These were yoga people. They were nimble and flexible and strong. (Although a triceps push up is easier when you only weight ninety pounds. Just sayin'.) Their bodies were to be respected. But now they were runners too? Marathoners?! Cavalier marathoners?!?! What was this world coming to?
I have thought about them quite a bit since then. I wonder what it would be like to exist in such a body. To think, I like yoga- why not become an instructor? Or, when invited to go for a bike ride, to simply say "Sure!" rather than "Will there be any hills?". To live in a body like that must be (to reveal my own predilections) a piece of cake. Such utility! Such ease! Such fun! Why, it must be heaven!
When I lived in Uganda, strangers looked at my zaftig white face and shamelessly approached me to ask if I would sponsor their children's education. Grown men I had never seen before asked me to buy them sodas. Whenever I went out to eat with a friend, I picked up the tab. If we took a taxi, I picked up that tab, too. And why not? I could afford it. I presume they marveled at my financial nonchalance. Such utility! Such ease! Such fun! Why, they thought, that out-of-breath white woman must be in heaven!
And so I was. It is indeed a pleasure to have something (anything) handed to you on a silver platter. Perhaps part of the fun is that because you didn't even have to work for it, you don't even have to appreciate it. It's just your's; you can have it. For nothing.
I have a friend whose life began in circumstances similar to those I saw in Uganda. Now he is in the US Navy, living in Hawaii with his family. He worked hard, harder than I will ever ever know, moved to America, graduated from college, and continues to work to support his family back home, and his growing family in the US. It wasn't easy, but he did it. It wasn't handed to him, but now he has it. Townhouse, station wagon, leather couches, you name it.
If you will excuse me, I have six miles to jog.