Friday, March 28, 2014

Me and exercise


It's fairly early in the morning. You haven't slept very well - you're a bit excited and nervous, because later that day you are going to be flying off to another city where you will be a keynote speaker at a conference for the first time in your life.

The night before, you woke up around 2am and couldn't go back to sleep - instead of tossing and turning you got up and checked your packing, made sure you had everything - passport, clothes, personal item kit, all the cables for all your devices, phone charged, camera charged, everything ready for the workshop you also had to teach later in the weekend. You went through your presentation one last time. You went back to sleep around 3:30am.

You get up around six, get some coffee, do your morning ritual of sitting down and reading email, new posts on Facebook, SomaSimple, Twitter..

The only thing you have left to do is get your presentation off your iMac and onto a stick and onto your laptop. You pat yourself on the back a little bit for being so organized.

You reach around, unplug the printer cable from the iMac port so you can plug the stick in, then plug the stick in.

At that moment, your computer goes dead. Stone cold dead.

Well, it isn't cold yet, but it's certainly dead.
And you cannot get it to turn back on. You do all the usual tricks. Check the plugin. Let it cool down.. decide, I'll deal with this after I have a shower. Have a shower. Dry your hair. Get dressed. Try to revive it. Use the trick they taught you at Apple Hospital the last time your computer went comatose - turn it on, press p, r, option and command all at the same time to make the files all sort themselves out.

Nada. The screen wakes up but stays grey: no reassuring "bonnnnnnng" sound, no apple icon, not even that little bunch of dots circling around. You wait 5 minutes. Still nada.

Uh oh. Now what?

Your mind has already hatched a plan. You know you have enough time to get the beast to the hospital before your plane leaves. Using your laptop you send a distress call to the only other human on the planet who has your presentation - the entire keynote presentation in its final state, and ask him to send it. Your email is titled "Computer disaster". 

He is there! He emails back immediately - no prob - I'll send it. And he is very soothing about all this. Incidentally he's a massage therapist.

One problem solved.

The other problem is, you've lost all the slides you were going to use for the workshop, to which he says, don't worry, just wing it and it will all be fine - same thing happened to me once, computer problems, so I winged it and the class went great.

I go get the box, get the heavy computer into it, drive an hour and a quarter to the computer hospital. I arrive about 10:45 am. I notice this time I can carry it with much less difficulty all the way from the parking lot to the store - about a ten minute walk - with way less stress and strain. Yup, having gone for regular workouts for the last two months has done me some good. No one sees me huff and puff, no one offers to carry my monster computer for me this time, like they did in November...

A tall guy named "Oak" helps me at the store. Excellent customer service. He listens. His brain ticks over. Would I like him to send me the presentation? No, it's OK - thanks, but I've got that covered.. I need you to diagnose the problem and email with me about what is wrong, how much it will cost, all that. He says, let me show you some replacement models just in case. We can do a complete data transfer onto a new unit for $49 dollars. We can give you a discount. You do a lot of photoshop so you would do better with the next grade, this one with... (bells, whistles, trunk space...). 

We agree that will be plan B - plan A will be try to fix the one I have. If possible.

I give him my external hard drive and the guy behind the counter gets all the paperwork organized, and I'm out of there and off to the airport. When I get to the airport, through security, all that, I sit down and open my email and voil√°, the presentation has arrived! All will be well. As it downloads I sip my extra large mocha latte. No whipped cream, but only because Tim Horton's has run out of it. Or I would have it. I'm treating myself after having been stressed out.

The main point of this long tale is just to set the stage for saying that I'm convinced that this time round, I have less stress and more physical capacity. I was a bit surprised, actually. Exercise really has done me some actual good, it would seem.
In the past, when I did long bouts of exercise, some judgey part of me always stood back, arms folded, waiting to see if it could improve my mood. It never did.

This time, I went back without any expectations at all. I just wanted to stave off decrepitude, see if I would be able to fly long distances without developing ankle swelling, like after travelling home from Brazil in 2010, or a couple weeks of wheezing, like after my last trip in January.

With no expectations, the arm-folding part of me never made an appearance. 
Yet, bizarrely, I think my mood has improved. Imperceptibly.
I mean, it wasn't like I didn't feel stressed out about the death of my beloved computer, or dread the thought of lugging it, after the last time when I vowed I'd get a dolly (I ended up forgetting to buy a dolly). Both stress and dread did happen... 
What was different was that the stress seemed ... smaller, and further away, not as sensorially overwhelming as it has in the past. And the dread was much less because I felt physically stronger.

Stress/anxiety is a horrible experience. It feels so visceral. It feels like the abdominal cavity is being flushed with acid, repeatedly. It feels like everything in the thoracic cavity is being squeezed up into the throat - like there would be any extra room in there for anything extra... 

This time, my stress and anxiety felt like flutters. That's all, just flutters. Like a bunch of tiny black bats with sharp claws on their wings were flapping around inside, but not nearly as painful, and a lot more easily suppressed.
And I was favourably impressed with my improved cardiovascular stamina, carrying that monster computer all that way to the store from the parking lot. Lots of rests, but only for two seconds, and lots of scurries (carrying a heavy load on one side is easier if you scurry with small quick steps, dampening the sinusoidal gait curve all you can); no major out-of-breath-ness. 

Yup, this exercise thing might just finally have made its way into my life in a permanent way. I might just marry it, make it a lifetime commitment. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first noticed decreptitude creeping in with the fat ankles thing and was pleasantly shocked to see them go awaaaayeee as a nice unexpected side benefit of 4g of sodium ascorbate and one of lysine before bed in about two weeks. Back to soft fluffy socks - havent had to use those special yukky tight inflight socks since.