When the shit hits the fan and blows back into our fully beat faces, designer clothing, just stepped-out-of-the-salon hair, nails and teeth:
A) OPRAH: EATS
B) HEMINGWAY: DRANK
C) LOHAN: SNORTS
D) BELUSHI: All of the above
And I, my astute readers (cricket, cricket): Exercise! Sounds pretty healthy, huh? I’m better than those slouches, right? Well, maybe not!
Allow me to catch everyone up. Since my introductory essay (http://bit.ly/cu08SG) which explained an accident involving me, a bicycle, and a curb (yeah, I live on the edge), I received the diagnosis of a total ACL rupture, torn meniscus, as well as a few grade 1 knee sprains and some little ole’ bone contusions. Oh, and I’m having surgery. Today! Yay!
As awful as that report sounds, I’m in no physical pain and have been bopping around town without a hitch. Subway stairs pose no problem; blinking crosswalks are my bitch; I’m even back to contending with crotchety old Jews at Zabar’s on its busiest of days (donning kneepads, but for different reasons, another blog post entirely). However, and to my utmost dismay, (dramatic) I cannot exercise!
For years I’ve equated exercise with therapy. From the most mundane to crucial of life’s challenges, exercise has been my solace, my safe haven. This idea of refugee may seem a bit odd considering the type of physical activity of which I engage. I don’t jog. Instead, I run at Kenyan-like speeds (I’m not black; I don’t even tan) for as long as I’m physically capable. I don’t involve myself in any of that kumbaya-circle-jerky type of yoga either. I practice Bikram Yoga, a series of 26 postures executed in a room heated to approx 105 degrees. Bikram Choudhury himself refers to his class as the “torture chamber” he says, “we endure 90 minutes of hell, to avoid 90 years of it” (He has not met my family, but again, ‘nother blog post). While these two forms of exercise may seem like polar opposites, for me their effects and results are essentially the same.
During that intense 8+ mile run or 90 minute class life is simple. My only focus is to either stay on my feet and run, or stay in the heat and breathe. That’s it! The outside world does not exist. No loved ones dying, no relationships gone awry, no careers in the shitter; all is simplified. Then immediately upon completion of my workout, a frenzied sense of euphoria sets in. This surge feels drug induced (um, so I’ve heard). I am high on endorphines and don’t want to come down. Naturally (more like, unnaturally), I race to yoga soon after a long run, or indulge in back-to-back Bikram classes. (Kids, don’t try this at home) The heightened sense of elation continues. I am untouchable, a force to be reckoned with.
Since the accident occurred one month ago my workouts have been severely compromised and on some days non-existent (Macaulay Culkin “Home Alone” face, And go!). This downtime causes me anxiety, but its also given me the opportunity to reflect. I’m coming to grips with the notion that at some point exercise shifted from something therapeutic, to more of a coping mechanism and escape. Instead of providing release, exercise has been my shield. Now the armory is off, revealing a gentler more vulnerable Charly. My strength and resiliency, while still prevalent, does not define me. This Charly feels. This Charly cries. This simple confession makes me uneasy. Imagine how I felt when I shed tears in front of another person, a dude for that matter.
All in all, I am trying to deal with this situation without my go-to coping mechanism. Thus, the dilemma and the drama. But with that comes the self-discovery and the eventual birth of new healthier means of coping. My dad just called to say he’s on the LIE en route to my apartment. Its 5:15am. I’m to be at the hospital at 6am. Um, I’ll catch ya on the flip side? Can someone please explain to me what that really means? Thanks. Wish me luck!