A few things I’m thinking about right now –
- Dining Alone: I used to feel so incredibly awkward going to restaurants by myself. Like everyone was looking askance at me and thinking, “What a loser! Doesn’t she have any friends?” If I was forced to eat at a restaurant on my own, I’d cling to a book to appear occupied: eating was secondary to some other important task I was engaged in. But lately, with Jay gone and a seemingly infinite list of great eateries to taste-test in Chitown, I’ve gotten more comfortable dining alone. I’ll unapologetically claim a window table for two and enjoy my entree without picking up my phone once. As if I’m a whole person capable of enjoying a meal in my own company, without external validation or constant distraction. What a novel idea.
- Functional Fitness: The cult of CrossFit likes to repeat, over and over ad nauseam, that the sport is all about “functional fitness.” This means core to extremity movements that build strength, teach you to use your body efficiently, and allow you to lead a better life, tackling anything that comes your way. And I’m starting to think they are right. Since I started training at my box, new activities come much more naturally to me. For example, last weekend I took an introductory bouldering class. The first and only other time I went climbing, it was awful: I felt weak and unsafe. This time around, I felt totally in control. The hip drive needed for dynamic climbing? Just like the powerful movements I practice day in, day out at CrossFit. The grip strength needed for tenuous holds? Same muscles I was using for high volume pull-ups and gymnastic exercises. I’m sure you could improve on these things in a myriad of different ways, and my experience is just one sliver of the spectrum of possibilities, but it’s still nice to see improvement.
- Balancing Act – Sometimes, I find myself in relationships where one person is more invested than the other. It could be the numbers: someone in my circle of closest friends actually thinks of me as part of a bigger group of casual friends, or vice versa. Or it could just be timing: at different points in time, someone needs my support or I need theirs. But those imbalances can feel awkward and upsetting. If someone seems more invested in a friendship than I am, I feel like I need to turn it up and meet them where they are. Conversely, if I feel more strongly that the other person, I need to tone it down a notch, again meeting them where they are. Now, I’m trying to simply accept how I feel without constantly modulating my emotions for the benefit of others. If there is a difference in how we feel, that’s okay. That does not make my emotions invalid or incorrect. It just makes them mine.
- Humble Warrior – When I first started practicing yoga, to prove I was good enough, I wanted to do poses like Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 with the longest, deepest lunge my quivering quads could handle. I wanted my thigh perfectly parallel to the ground, knee over the ankle, fully flexed, weight evenly distributed. It took a long time for me to realize that those are secondary aspects of the poses, after you get the correct position of your torso. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to admit to myself that I needed to take a closer stance to get the correct hip alignment for Warrior 1. Though it’s frustrating for me to use a modification that takes less muscular strength, I’m hoping a little humility now will improve my practice in the long run.
- Maximum utility – I recently started doing volunteer outreach work with the homeless in suburban Cook County. It’s tough to see people who have already faced lots of challenges in life jump through even more hoops to get access to basic necessities. So when I go to work and see students who have had every privilege in life (white, heterosexual, cis-gender, young, able-bodied men from affluent families) come to little bumps in the road (like a tough year in grad school) and act like the world is ending, it makes me positively seethe with annoyance, frustration, anger, and impatience. I started ranting to Jay about this last night, but he interrupted me mid-sentence and said, “Just let it go.” I sputtered to a stop. “But… but… it’s so unfair!” I protested. And he repeated, “Just let it go. You can’t maximize utility for everyone all the time and you can’t change other people. Just do what you can do, and let this go.” And then I thought to myself, This is why I need Jay.
- Just for Fun – SpaceX successfully landed a rocket at sea on their barge “Of Course I Still Love You.” After a few failed attempts, explosions, and a very near miss brought low by a faulty leg, it worked! It’s pretty awesome to see how excited the SpaceX bros are about this huge win for the private space industry. The video almost looks fake because the rocket lands with such amazing control and precision.