I have always had a sneaking suspicion that exercise plays an important role in my life. Many people might view it as a chore or a necessity to fit into their new jeans or one of many possible things that you could do on a Saturday afternoon. Up until recently, I might have agreed that it's something I "do on a Saturday afternoon" and that I find it fun. But now, after taking it for granted for so long, I realize that I need to exercise. It is largely who I am and what I do.
About 10 days ago, I was out on a bike ride with my friend, Eric. At the top of a particularly long climb, we stopped our bikes to walk to the top of a fire tower and look at the panorama. Trying to climb and descend the stairs of the tower, I found myself hobbling. Which is definitely not normal. Often I make myself feel like shit from doing way too much physical activity. But it's an all over "feel like shit" sensation. But right then, only the outside of my right knee felt like shit. Uh oh. Eric identified it as an inflammation of my IT band. He recommended that I rest in order to keep from further damaging it. I finished out the ride in an easy gear, hoping that I wasn't destroying my knee further in those last twenty or so miles.
Looking into the matter, I found that many of my activities including hiking, running, bowling, biking, and cross country skiing can cause or further compound IT band syndrome. There are many recommended remedies, but the most essential one is to rest the knee until the inflammation goes away. So, for the past nine days I have largely done nothing but work, read books and watch TV. It has also provided me some time to think about things-which those that know me well know I'm introspective already, so I guess this was hyperintrospection.
It made me realize that my life more or less revolves around exercise or physical activity or whatever you want to call it. I get some sort of exercise in every day and have been doing so more or less for years. It's the fun thing that I like to do and the only area of my life except for food and shelter that I actually spend money on. I bike or walk everywhere for transportation. To a fault, it's one of the few things that I talk about with people and the way that I meet new people. My personal definition of a friend is someone whom I have done something outdoors with. Whenever I feel anxious or depressed (which happens a bit), running or biking takes the place of medication to even out my mood. The only thing that kept me from a complete alcoholic stupor for years (and to this day) was the notion that I should beat the shit out of myself with exercise instead of with a whiskey bottle. It's what I wake up for, save for, daydream about, and is my single biggest pleasure. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket.
I am honestly not over dramatizing the role that getting outside and sweating plays in my life. But I realize that there's no reason for melodrama yet. I am giving it another week to see how my knee feels. I've been trying to stretch more regularly. There's probably a couple of adjustments that I need to make to my bike too. And more likely than not, I'll be just fine. Human beings have dealt with a lot more than just an achy knee and done far more than I will ever do, so I should just shut up already. Which I will. But I still have to say "WOW" because I didn't know just how much I love to get outside and play until now.
p.s. Jazzercise still exists. I thought it died out the same time as my favorite musicians did from heroin overdoses.