Scientists report that the human body is 70% water, but what comprises the majority of our days? What do most people fit into twenty-four hours, their weeks, a month? Well, I’ll tell you this much: the brunt of everyone I know’s schedule is NOT spent attending champagne brunches and celebrity dress balls. I would even bet that most folks spend most of their time doing mundane tasks or performing maintenance rituals (be it health regimens for the body or taking care of the house, the kids, the yard, the pets). In all, it’s about as unglamorous as reality gets.
When I was in the woods in January, the campground had one building that sat alone with a big painted sign on the outside which read, LAUNDRY & EXERCISE. When I had first entered that building, so many months ago, my arms brimming with dirty clothes, I had smiled to myself at the kooky notion. These were not occurrences one normally paired. They did not fall together like peanut butter and jelly, socks and shoes, or even garage and driveway did. But, after I had loaded up the two washers (one for white, one for colors), I, in fact, EXERCISED on the four “machines” they had lined up in the small room adjacent to the washers & dryers.
I’ll tell you--that experience changed my perspective. As I took turns pedaling, rowing, and treadmilling—all the while listening to the cylinders spin and rinse, and then spin and rinse again--I thought what a great idea this was, and how natural the pairing now seemed. I wondered next why more people didn’t think of this and put the two together because it felt fantastic to dash two chores with a single hour. I confess it felt a little odd to be sweating (and, therefore, creating more dirty laundry before I had had a moment’s chance at a clean slate) but the proximity of the machines actually inspired me to exercise, since I had to sit there and wait on my clothes anyways.
For someone like me who craves perpetual motion, an addiction that has robbed me for too long of the ability to just be, I find little or no enjoyment in the mundane, although I admit to feeling the accomplishment in and, at times, peace within routine. I watch my son--and for fourteen years before that, my teenaged students, and not one of them ever claimed they wanted to grow up and be NORMAL; in fact, most of their career paths, the jobs they dreamed of having all involved a high-gloss lifestyle that not one of them would find. (Does it exist? Sure, it is a reality for the 1% of those pursued by the paparazzi, those “lucky” mortals whose every detail somehow seems note- and newsworthy. They are enjoying that otherworldy stardom when they are not in court or in one of many rehab programs. --I wish I was completely joking.)
One boy I taught (attempted to), who was an especially weak student with a marginal IQ and zero desire to expend any effort, told me, point blank, that he WOULD live in The Dominion when he was older. (For non-Texas residents, The Dominion is the poshest neighborhood in San Antonio where Spurs athlete, David Robinson, and country music legend, George Strait, live.) My arrogant student had no idea what he would do to get there or how he would achieve that claim—but, see, reality never really factors into fantasy, and grandeur tends to gallop across the imagination and eclipse all else. Each year that I taught I saw an alarmingly-increasing disconnect between dreams and aims/goals. EVERYONE wanted prosperity and fame, but no one wanted to clean toilets to get there and not one had a plan to make it happen—the magic wand comes to mind, as does an image of Samantha’s bewitched nose twinkle.
Gas, liquid, solid: it is an irrefutable law of logic that vapor does not turn itself into concrete (nor fat into muscle). Or, in other words (and another's words), Dreams don't just need wings; they need landing gear. Pray, plan & step.
There was a semi-famous (okay, she had one collection of poems and short-stories published in the seventies and she was a colleague of my former boss, Dr. John S. Scott, Playwright in Residence, at Bowling Green State University) lady, I think her name was Doris Davenport, and at one of our lively Friday open-mike sessions that we sponsored to promote the arts on campus, she read her most-widely read poem, “No One Meant To Grow Up Mediocre.” The woman herself was a trifle aloof and I do not recall liking the poem itself, but the concept has remained awfully true and present in my consciousness, floating in and out of memory ever since she got up on her soap box and delivered it. Mediocrity is no one’s plan but, by default, it is what will undoubtedly happen to you without one. . .