Friday, June 27, 2008

Aside: It's All Wrong, All Wrong

I've been listening to Radiolab podcasts lately.

Rebecca insisted I purchase an iPod Nano, and I insisted right back that I'm perfectly happy with the Shuffle: I just need a repository for all the data, I don't need to flip through brightly colored album covers and such. Well, the Nano's pretty cool. I've been fighting against iTunes to make it load what I want (podcasts and photos first, music next) and mostly losing these battles, but now I can get it set up pretty much how I desire.

I'm also going to start up a specific playlist called Workout, because I've been changing my living habits lately. For the past few weeks I've been doing Steps alone--formerly, group work activity where several of us climbed from the 5th floor of our building to the 30th floor--alone, because no one else can be arsed to participate. The first time alone was the hardest, but when I brought my iPod, of course, the time just flew by. I e-mailed Rebecca to show her how long this exercise takes me: taking the elevator down to the second floor, climbing the stairs from floor 2 to 30 (with a break around 27 for stretching), returning to my desk and e-mailing her again took 14 minutes.

So I've been doing Steps for about three weeks on my own, and lately I've been getting into the nutritional supplements. Whey protein after a workout; fish oil at night (for depression); multivitamins after lunch; Metamucil twice a day; and a big bowl of oatmeal every morning. This is all designed to improve my attitude and my health. And lately I've had more energy to clean up the apartment and run errands on foot, I've been a much more contributive member of the household and I feel better about that. I want to work out more and eat better, and I want to get better sleep but that's harder to do so far.

So, the Workout playlist, because this week I've started walking five blocks south on Nicollet to the YWCA. Rebecca got us memberships there and for the most part we haven't used them, but now I am. I used to go to the library to kill an hour on the Internet, and then I brought my laptop to Dunn Bros. so as to avoid the kind of people who hang out in the library for free Internet access, and lately I've been losing interest in my online activities. I rarely get any e-mail, and I'm not enjoying the message board where I hang out, so I've dropped noontime Internet usage altogether. Instead, I go down to the YW and work out. Weds. I changed into full workout regalia, but yesterday I simply took off my shirt and tie, exercising in a white tank top undershirt and pinstripe dress slacks. It's just an upper body workout, so why do I need to change into shorts for that, for lunch break? Afterwards I walk over to Oasis where I buy a bag of vegetables to graze on for the rest of the afternoon.

All this, because I hate the way I look. I hate my flabby neck and weak, sloping shoulders. I hate my sunken chest and bowling ball gut. When I undress to shower and see myself in the mirror, I feel like one of those mutant albino frogs with underdeveloped legs. I'm ashamed to show myself to my wife, looking like this, and I can't comprehend how or why she would ever want to touch something as repulsive as my body. I feel sorry for her, sometimes, being stuck with as poor a specimen as me. So I can't let myself off the hook just because I've secured a partner, I have to eat healthfully and work out.

And I've been listening to these Radiolab podcasts, like I said. They focus on a topic like 'morality' or 'espionage' and consult experts in the field and present anecdotes, all presented with fun sounds and comical exposition. They're fun and informative. Two things have recently come to prominence, and I'll summarize them for you though the summary will sound wildly incorrect. Depressed people actually do have a clearer perception of reality, and that's what shortens their lives and makes them ill. People who lie to themselves about who they are and the nature of the world around them are happier, more successul in their endeavors, and enjoy better health. Biologically, there is no benefit to meeting life frankly as it exists--this is actually detrimental to an organism.

So when I get upset about people threatening me in traffic, I'm wrong. When I disparage people who think some laws are too small to obey, like jaywalking, I'm wrong. When I get upset that jaywalking in Minneapolis has increased to such a degree that groups of people will actually block oncoming traffic, I'm wrong. People who believe they're above the law are correct. People who behave selfishly and expect others to accommodate their petty desires are correct. People who laugh at me when I get upset at threats to my welfare and rights are correct.

This doesn't cheer me up at all, however. The resounding lesson that I have to exercise denial and sublimation in order to stay healthy and get anywhere in life, this does not cheer me up. The conclusion that socially disruptive egomania is the key to success does not cheer me up. This world truly is biased in favor of ignorance, and I'm a foreign body. It's not that people are out to get me: it's that the metabolism of the world has antibodies and white blood cells to eliminate intruders like me. I am un-Zen and the world responds to balance itself.

So what is the point of going on?



good question.

so what are you going to use the Shuffle for now? it seems that it would still be useful as the 'music databank'.

Thomas said...

Damn, you're way ahead of me. I've never downloaded a song in my life.