Don’t try so hard

If you talk to someone about “relaxing,” they will usually think of that as the opposite of “trying hard.” They think of lying on the couch, muscles relaxed, not doing anything. “Relaxing” is equated with “laziness” for a lot of people. So “trying hard” and “relaxing” are seen as two opposite things. What would it be like to try hard while relaxing?

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/dao/

I’ve long known I have a bias to action. So trying hard used to always look like activity—often physically strenuous activity. Eventually I came to refer to that as my “bashing” mode. Imagine the Hulk working on anything; Bashing. But this leaves a trail of destruction more often than not. As I’ve worked to value recovery, rest, and relaxation—because, hey, why couldn’t one’s life be mostly peaceful relaxation?—I’ve gravitated towards “work” that can be done in a relaxed state. If any of this is news to you, as always, Babauta does a great job suggesting ways to get into it.

ɕ

Oblivion

So begins her obsession with dominating the mind by dominating the body, which would follow her throughout her life in various guises — running, karate, yoga, cycling, skiing — always ambivalent and self-conscious, until it finally resolves into a glimpse of the larger truth beneath the mechanics of illusory perfectibility: that we exert ourselves so violently on keeping the package of the body intact in order to keep it from spilling its immaterial contents — the soul, the self — into oblivion.

~ Maria Popova from, https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/01/01/the-secret-to-superhuman-strength-alison-bechdel/

Ah yes, “oblivion.” Good stuff. Popova is referring to a graphic artist, and midway through the article is an exquisite cartoon example; the author drawing, figuratively and literally, a metaphor for life involving a hill and a bicycle. Reading that cartoon brought to mind my beloved practice of meditating on death. (Try this explanation.) Closely related I often call to mind the impermanence of things. Sometimes I mix the two, thinking…

This is my last sip from this [my favorite, morning coffee] mug. (Knowing it will one day be broken.)

This [regularly scheduled weekly] conversation with this person is our last one. (Imagining when priorities change and we’re no longer working together.)

This conversation I’m recording for a podcast is my last one. (Because I will die.)

This dinner with this person [my mom, my spouse, etc] is my last one. (Because one of us will die first.)

The goal is not to be morbid and depressed; The goal is to maintain a realistic perspective to enable wringing the absolute maximum enjoyment and appreciation from every single waking moment.

ɕ

Flexibility

One of my hobbies is rock climbing. (Outdoors, “trad”[itional]—where you climb in pairs with the lead climber “putting up” safety gear, and the second climber “cleaning” up said gear as they climb.) Climbing outdoors is generally, hot, sweaty, dirty, and rocks are hard—bumps, bruises, scrapes, are par for the course. Then there’s the “walk” (anything not climbing rocks is “walking”) to/from the climb which can sometimes be an hour+ of bush-wacking terrain. Sometimes you get caught in the rain. Bug bites are a foregone conclusion. O’dark-thirty early starts, long drives [unless you’re lucky to live/camp very near the “crag”]. There are things I like about rock climbing—but the pro’s/con’s isn’t want I want to write about today.

Rock climbing is best done in tune with the seasons and with the weather. So there’s a zen quality to having all your gear ready to go, keeping yourself [as best I can] in reasonable shape, talking with climbing friends about when we’re next going… and then simply waiting.

And then, “hey! tom is last good weather day this week,” shows up via message. Yes please!

ɕ

P.S.: The etymology of “Craig” is alarmingly on point.