What I Learned in Boating School is…
Someone repeated to me (as I would show up late from time to time due to XYZ reasons) that the simple act of showing up is the hardest part of anything. In the thick of my situation, I was like OK thank you for the pep talk and walked away and went about my business. Despite being reprimanded, I knew that there was truth in the words he said to me. And although it wasn’t an amazing display of empathy, I could see that he had gone through the same thing, and maybe someone wiser than him said those very words. That’s what permeated my thick skull. Whether or not the thought managed to stay with me on the course of these throes is an entirely different story.
CHM111 Review: Activation Energy in an Endothermic Reaction
People are intimidated by the thought of exercise-that it will be this massive effort to undergo and something that you must keep up. But the word exercise really carries no heavier weight than the similar word “practice,” at least in my mind. I would consider them to be relatively synonymous. An exercise is a simple motion, performing the most basic of movements-just as you practice the way your body moves and functions so that you’re more prepared to do it again the next time. We build up in our heads that exercise must be this intense athletic performance and display of ability, and that is a sheer fallacy. The perceived activation energy is far greater than it really is, or far greater than what it needs to be. The fact of the matter is that the simple act of doing something is more than you otherwise would have done, had you done nothing. In wasting time thinking about doing something, you compare yourself to what you could do yesterday or a year ago, or to others, and you conclude to yourself that you couldn’t possibly do it as easily. The activation energy needed to do something is incrementally increased in this downward thought cycle to protect your ego from injury. And what’s worse is your mind eventually somehow convinces yourself that it is doing something by simply thinking about it! You unfairly exchange your thoughtful consideration of an action’s undertaking for the action itself and commend yourself for your good thoughts. You convinced yourself that you had actually done something by merely thinking about it to make yourself feel better about your inaction. You didn’t show up.
Martial Arts-Joining the UFC
Some groups of people in Eastern cultures are masters of these concepts. A perfect example is the martial art Qigong (pronounced “chi gong”) in traditional Chinese medicine, which combines meditation, controlled breathing, and gentle movement. Everyday massive groups of people in China will gather at the break of dawn to practice (gong meaning “skill cultivated through steady practice”) moving their qi (meaning “subtle breath” or “vital energy”) through basic bodily movements. They are some of the healthiest people on the planet. Throw any sort of dumbbell or weight out of the conversation (but don’t hit anyone!) and consider the natural movements of solely (yes, including the soles of your feet) your body. These people move their limbs in various motions while keeping their knees bent and moving with their breath. Just the simple act of moving each muscle is keeping the body flowing from top to bottom and left to right, and in the inverse directions directions as well (and more). The Western ideas of running marathons and lifting weights are a ridiculous comparison to these calm and collected movements. The fundamental tenant of Qigong is that we don’t need extreme displays of ability to stay fit and healthy. This toxic all-or-nothing trait will only lead to disappointment and pain (translation=not good). We are well equipped to remain in shape without any extreme activities and additional resources.
Showing up every day and doing at least something for every part of your body (including your brain) are more important than anything else. Doing just the bare minimum is still measurably doing something, and it will always be greater than doing nothing, whether it be for your body or for your mind. And the reality is doing something for your body is doing it for your mind and vice versa. Setting aside time to do something is the first step. Then, of course, you just need to show up. Everything else will fall into place from there. Life is about showing up.