Why I Don’t Workout

Some dualism for your Saturday morning. Thanks for reading, even when it’s something as silly as the following post.

<><Jo

 

[Alarm rings pleasantly, designed to mimic birdsong]

Jo’s Mind: Hey, it’s morning! Hey, Good Morning, Jo’s Body! Time to get up and get going with our day.

Jo’s Body: Mmmmff.

Mind: Come on, now. Just heave your self over, out of the bed.

Body: Just five more min-

Mind: NO. Every time I give you five minutes, they turn into thirty. Just get up. No questions.

[Jo gets up and looks out the window]

Mind: Man, what a beautiful day. And just think–it’s Saturday! We can do whatever we want.

Body: Yeah!

Mind: Hey, I know what we should do! We should go workout!

Body: What?! What happened to doing what we wanted?

Mind: I’d like to workout, wouldn’t you?

Body: No, are you crazy? We don’t workout. We aren’t that kind of person.

Mind: Ok, but I’d like to be. Let’s go try it, huh? Yeah? Yeah?

Body: uuuuuuuughhh. We tried this last year. Like twice. I ended up hating you for weeks afterward.

Mind: Oh, come on! Maybe it’ll be different this time. Now get dressed fast, ok, before I think too hard about this.

[ROOMMATE passes by]

Roommate: Hey Jo, what’re you up to today?

Jo: (rather proudly) I’m going to go workout today.

Roommate: (attempts to hide skepticism) Oh! Well, I hope you have a good time working out.

Body: See? This is ridiculous.

Mind: It’s for your own sake, ok? Let’s just go.

[Jo gets to the workout room. SOMEONE ELSE is already there lifting weights. MIND and BODY hesitate.]

Mind: Ummmm, I guess we’ll just, you know, go in, even though someone else is in there.

Body: Whatever.

[Jo starts the treadmill; begins walking]

Mind: This seems slow.

Body: Well, I think this feels great.

Mind: Ok, fine. I’m gonna read, then.

[Thirty minutes later, the exercise program slows, stops]

Body: Hey, that was good. Good job, Jo!

Mind: (raises figurative eyebrow) Um, I don’t think that was enough. Let’s try just a little more. Come on, back on the machine.

Body: (drags herself back toward the treadmill) Why do I listen to you?

[KID FROM SPANISH CLASS enters workout room, takes adjacent treadmill]

Mind: (whispering) Hey–hey, look. It’s that kid from Spanish class who always knows the answers and makes us feel inferior by comparison.

Body: (somewhat out of breath) Oh. Okay.

Mind: Hey, I have an idea. We should outlast her on here. That’d show her.

Body: ARE YOU NUTS??? We can’t do that!

[GFSC begins running twice the speed of Jo’s jogging]

Mind: Ok, maybe you’re right. She kinda looks like she’s used to this. Here’s what we do. Keep jogging for at least a mile, ok? That will at least look like we aren’t a wimp.

Body: (breathing harder)…

[Five minutes later]

Body: Need to stop. Let’s stop.

Mind: No! We have to get to a mile. In the meantime we’ll play a game, okay? We’ll play, “Imagine how many people are walking by this room, seeing Jo’s increasingly red face.”

Body: I don’t like that game.

Mind: yeah, neither do I. Okay, how about this. If we can make it to ten minutes at this pace and incline, we can stop.

[Three minutes later]

Mind: 1 Corinthians 9:27! 1 Corinthians 9:27! Let’s go!

Body: (gasping) What the heck. You can’t just rip that out of con-

Mind: Hey. If it’s applicable, we use it.

[Approximately 57 seconds later]

Body: I’m done, okay?

[Jo slows the machine, gets off to stretch]

Mind: Wow, good job. I mean, we kinda stink in comparison to the kid from Spanish class, but hey, aren’t you glad we made the effort?

Body: I hate you.

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Things I tend to forget

Is joy a feeling? Is it the stirring in my heart at the sight of someone precious to me? Or is it something willed? Is joy the smile I consciously put on like another piece of clothing, choosing to wear it on days when nothing inclines me to that stirring in my soul? I know how to pretend joy—know all about that forced and cheery upper lip, stiff with one “It’ll be fine” after another. I am so tired, too, of all the constant self-criticism of “what do I really have to be sad about?”

I wish I never had time to ask that question, or that it never entered my mind in the first place. I think I am so busy asking that question, wallowing deeper and deeper in a mire of abstract self-critique and self-absorption—so absorbed in my worries that I never consider asking “What can  I thank God for? What can I rejoice in?”

Let’s be blessedly practical for a minute, here.

I am clearly told I should be anxious for nothing, but rather I am to present every request to God, with thanksgiving and in a spirit of prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6;).

How familiar those words are.

Oh, Jo, when will you learn?

When will you learn that it does no good to hold on, whiteknuckled, to what you thought and what you wanted? It helps no one, least of all you. Yet I desire more than resignation; I would feel that stirring in my soul when I consider the will of God, whatever it looks like.

I want to be content in every situation in which God puts me, yes; but more than that, I yearn to be the sort of person who rejoices—really rejoices—in what she has been given. I’ve less of a use for Stoicism as a way of looking at the world. I crave hope.

I crave hope.

The willed kind of joy is the best I can come up with on my own—I know of no other source for real and lasting joy than in the person of Jesus Christ.

And I am so prone to forgetting.

Hey, friend, let’s remind each other. Thank you for reading.

Crises at Kidz Kamp

I immediately feel like a pretentious smarty-pants for using the plural form of “crisis” in the title of this blog post.  What if we pretend the plurals of words ending in “-is” are actually the same as the plurals of the words ending in “-us?” Such as octopus. Let’s try again, shall we?

Crisii at Kidz Kamp.

Yeahhh. I like that much better.

Earlier this week I got to go with my church to kids camp. I was going as a newbie—not as a newbie to camps in general, but it was my first time at this particular camp and, crucially, my first time going as an adult sponsor. It sounded so fancy—adult sponsor. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I thought, “heck yeah, why not?” So I went.

It was a good half-week, and I enjoyed spending time with the kids and the other adults who went along. The biggest thing I had to deal with had nothing to do with the kids—it was all these existential “crisii” I kept inventing for myself, mostly having to do with figuring out what the heck I was supposed to be doing there. There was this great about-to-be-a-high-school-senior staffer, see, whose job was to go around with the kids to their activities and play with them. Last summer at Sky Ranch that was my job as a counselor, so I understood that job. But that wasn’t my job this time; it was hers.

So what was my job this time? Most of Monday morning I spent walking back and forth in a crisis of indecision, trying to decide whether to show up to the game I’d volunteered to help with or whether, instead, to hang around with the two girls from my church. I ended up reneging on the volunteer thing I said I’d do, and did this weird lurking in the background thing, watching my girls play and wishing I knew how to be a normal grown up/adult/person. This one little girls asked me to go down the water slide with her. Bless that child.

The girl staffer, an awesome gal named Morgan, graciously included me in her time with the girls, and eventually, I settled into a role as personal paparazzi to the Gurdon kids. As the week wore on I became more and more appreciative of the fact that I did not have to force myself to be enthusiastic about camp itself. I like camp just fine, but pretending to be SUPER EXCITED about something which just doesn’t excite you all the time is exhausting.

Enjoy, if you want to, an excerpt I wrote Tuesday morning, when I’d finally figured out, more or less, what being an adult sponsor entailed for me.

 

                        My phone battery is slowly but very surely dying, so I don’t know how far I’ll get on this, but nonetheless I’ll try. I’m holed up next to the swings, where all the other delinquent adults are using the technology that the camp is supposed to help us escape. I’ve chosen the shade over the blazing sun where the kids are listening to the game devo. That brings me to crisis number one: To skip or not to skip devotionals. I don’t think they care what I do since I’m technically here as a sponsor which means my counterparts are mostly in their thirties and forties.

Or maybe they do care. Last night there was a cabin devo and I took advantage of the fact to take my shower during it. I had the entire bathroom to myself, which should have been a clue. Finally someone came in and asked if someone was in the shower and I said “yes, ma’am.” It took her a minute to notice my obviously adult clothes hanging on the door. She chuckled and left. Apparently one does not skip cabin devos. One of my girls said they only talked about me a little. I guess that’s reassuring.

Mainly I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m too young for one job and too old for the other. I started joking around with one girl and then remembered I probably should be firm. Or something.

Just now I rescued two tadpoles and a crawdad from some cruel kid who’d put them in a water bottle in the sun. No doubt the kid had hopes of taking home a pet. I wasn’t going to bother about it until another kid knocked the bottle over and spilled the critters out. Owing to my own glorious childhood, I knew the crawdads would be fine so long as nobody stepped on them, but those tadpoles were doomed. So here was the crisis: Do I, acting in an adult capacity, renounce my sympathy for small things in favor of retaining what little dignity I may have? Do I walk away from this helpless, slimy creature slowly baking in the grass?

For two minutes I was an adult and I walked away toward the devotional, rationalizing my decision the whole way. They’re just tadpoles, Jo. You will look like a child if you pick those things up.

Friends, I couldn’t do it. I turned right back around and found the tadpole in the grass (it wasn’t even struggling anymore) and plopped it back into the bottle. Then I took the bottle to the bridge and returned them to creek, thinking all the while of the mantra of my childhood heroes, the Kratt brothers: “Living free and in the wild!”

Doubtless some kid is gonna look frantically for the tadpoles he spent hours catching. What can I say? I’m just a heartless, calloused adult.

I can’t get used to just watching kids play. What I do is I play with them. And I don’t really want to stop being that sort of person. However, I also know what a helicopter aunt I can be to my niece and especially to my nephew. Maybe it reflects some lack of trust in others, that I can’t think they’re fine without me.

Or maybe I keep making all these things into crises that really don’t have to be crises. Maybe I need to stop worrying about what my role is and just do what I can to serve God, whether that is by playing with kids or watching them play.

Thanks for reading:)