My favorite gym regulars are the Friday ones.
This evening, they and I are in sync, complicit in the crime of choosing the gym over a life. Their familiar faces are a delight to me.
But as much as I'm there for the company, I'm there to squat.
I read in a novel once that you can't squat and be depressed at the same time.
I believe this, at least at the bottom of a heavy squat. In the hole, as they call it. In the hole, I'm yanked out of my thoughts and into the present moment.
My mind clears. My entire body engages, and feels the weight. My feet, my quads and hamstrings, my glutes, are all under tension. I brace my core and push up.
It's a good workout.
I wrap up eventually and step out of the gym, into the intimacy of the cold night air. I take off my jacket and tie it around my waist, baring my arms.
I associate a pleasant chill with walking outside in the evening, especially after the gym. I first noticed it in SF, and thought it was the weather there. But today I realize it's the post-workout sweat on my skin that makes the breeze so refreshing.
I nestle my Airpods into my ears, and start walking towards the water.
I listen to all kinds of music on my walks, since the endorphins from my workout make it all scrumptious. But I most like listening to music that I deem life affirming.
Today I listen to a song that fits my vibe. It's a song from the Korean drama Goblin and it slaps. The vocals hit me in the feels, and the lyrics too - especially the line that goes, "it's a beautiful life."
Because that's what I think and feel when I'm out on these walks.
That it's a beautiful life.
I collect my attention and place it wholly on the sounds and vocals. It's bliss. Thankfully, at some point in my meditation career, I started using music as the point of my devotion.
It makes sense, because I see listening to music as a spiritual endeavor.
And I see taking a long walk as a spiritual endeavor too. Today, I walk to the Williamsburg bridge, then across it, and back. That's two hours. I log it on Strava for the validation. Still, I feel I am time poor, at least compared to Henry David Thoreau.
Go out and walk. That is the glory of life.
- Maira Kalman
Thoreau walked for at least four hours a day, and felt you couldn't be fulfilled otherwise. He put it this way:
When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them — as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon — I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.
Eventually, I'm leaning against a railing, looking out at the East River, remembering a poem I wrote here once. I almost dropped my notebook into the river that time.
Today, I watch the water and its waves and ripples. I try to stare at it as long as I can, as a test of my patience. The ebb and flow relaxes me.
These are my most intimate evenings.
Evenings alone, a workout, followed by a long walk, with music and maybe a view. In a way I feel the most alive in these nights.
I used to feel guilty about this - aren't your most special, intimate moments supposed to be with others?
But no, for me, my most special moments are with myself.