Today we went for our second ever hike in Austin. Actually, it’s our second ever hike as a couple. But part of moving to this city was to kickstart ourselves into doing. Something about Northern Virginia always made me feel like the hassle was too great and the reward too small. But now we’ve undertaken this crazy flight to another part of the country in order to achieve dreams and it’s been a moderate success so far so why not continue on, knocking down hurdles to life in all sorts of directions. We’re trying to be more active and I’ve decided that hiking is one of those ways we should do it. A blogger I read on occasion, and am always inspired by, MightyGirl, talked about her aversion to working out and my reaction was exactly! Why haven’t I been able to verbalize it like that? She said:
Now. Say you’re hurting and feeling fat. OK! Let’s put on some shorts and go somewhere public. Great. Are there lots of men here? Perfect. Now do something that makes you sweat. You’re all sweaty? Now stop, lay down on the floor, and contort yourself in ways so lewd you would blush to adopt similar positions while having actual intercourse. Great, great. See how every man in the room is openly gawking at you? Ignore that.
I’d add a few other things, but that sums up how I feel about going to a gym. I’ve never been what you would call “athletic”. I never got picked first for games and I didn’t care. When I was 7 I played soccer and accidentally scored the first goal of the season at one of our games. I didn’t even know what happened until my dad picked me up cheering over it. When we played softball in school I was more concerned with swiping at the cloud of gnats that took kamikaze dives at my eyes than what was happening in the infield (also, I was concerned with getting hit when a ground ball came at me). During recess most of the kids played soccer. Me and my friends walked around the schoolyard. Or sat under trees. Sweating always seemed too messy.
Basically, working out doesn’t fit into my image of myself. I feel like there are So. Many. More. ENJOYABLE things to do in life. That is basically my workout dogma. Rewards in the future don’t do much for me. I rationalize that I don’t really need it in the first place so why bother working toward it, if the present is so uncomfortable. My default setting is epicurean. The philosopher Epicurus believed that pleasure is the greatest good. But the way to attain pleasure was to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires. This leads one to attain a state of tranquility and an absence of bodily pain We typically categorize epicureanism as a form of hedonism, but only because it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from our general preconceptions about hedonism.
I do, however, like being outdoors. I do like the challenge of getting up a mountain, or the inspiration of seeing new sights and the beauty of how our physical world is changed by such small forces like wind and water over long periods of time. What? Geology was the only science I excelled at.
Therefore, hiking is one way to trick my mind into doing something good for my body. I’ve discovered that if my mind thinks it’s interesting, and can be occupied, I can do it. Therefore, activities where I can achieve a sense of tranquility with a moderate amount of physical discomfort works best for me. Things like yoga, walking, hiking, or swimming seem to fit into this category well and I intend to start incorporating them into my life.
So here are some pictures of our hike, which was kinda the whole point of this post in the first place. But then I got philosophic. Sorry!