It’s been a pretty sedentary weekend. Lots of sports on the TV, a couple of good books I’ve been meaning to finish, and a whole lot of workout inertia (it happens . . .). And now here I am on a cold and gray Sunday afternoon, sitting on my rear end and waiting for some divine motivation.
This is something that can happen when you get old and comfortable. You go outside in the chill of the early morning to get the newspaper and quickly convince yourself that it sure would be lovely to settle into a comfy chair with a cup of tea and a cat on your lap and just kind of ignore the cold, cruel realities of the outside world until tomorrow. Maybe leave your slippers on all day long. Watch a little football. Take it easy.
This is not a conversation that I ever had with myself when I was young. I had the kind of energy surplus that would send me out the door in any weather looking for some kind of adventure — real or imagined. And with a forest full of trails (and secret hideaways) across the street from our suburban homestead and a marshy pond across the nearby highway, there was no end to the possibilities.
You kind of lose that sense of outdoor adventure once you settle into adulthood. Yeah, you can get the gear and join up with some like-minded folks and go rock climbing or cross-country skiing or even snowshoeing, but it’s not the same. It’s not as spontaneous or creative (or dangerous, to be honest) as the stuff we did during long late afternoons as kids.
My Lovely Wife does not do any of the above, but she’s managed to retain something of the same spirit. Today, while I was sitting here ruminating about my lost energy, she bundled herself up, got onto her bike and happily pedaled off into the cold, gray distance. She does this pretty much every day, for no other reason than it makes her happy.
It’s a fascinating process, this thing called motivation. MLW has gone out the door and I’m looking outside at the cold, gray winter, searching for some reason to get up and move, when it occurs to me that I could just go for a little walk. The fresh air will do me good, right? So, I pull on my sneakers and a sweater, grab my jacket and gloves and head outdoors with no real agenda.
On these rare occasions, I’ll typically head east, to the river, but instead I turned south and walked toward Minnehaha Creek. Maybe I’ll see if there’s any water coming over the falls, I thought. Then: Maybe I’ll walk a bit downstream toward the river. Pretty soon, quite surprisingly, I was jogging along the trail. Then climbing up the hill toward some limestone outcropping. Then tossing rocks at a piece of ice floating below the Ford Dam (got it on the third try). Then exploring an ancient concrete structure decorated with graffiti. Then flinging a couple of rocks at the ice covering the meandering creek (they punctured the ice like a dart). Then stepping across the creek atop some not-so-icy stones. You get the idea. I was happily channeling my inner 12-year-old in a way I hadn’t done in years. Maybe decades.
By the time I had wandered out of the gorge and back home, my jacket was unbuttoned, my gloves were in my pockets and my ears were uncovered. It turned out to be a pretty good, albeit accidental, workout. And I felt about five decades younger.