"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

saved by the slow food movement

I had a clever plan tonight to pick up dinner on the way home so that I could fulfill my Wednesday night dinner duty and still make it to that bike ride by 6:00. Got to the organic sandwich shop at about 5:40. A customer in line ahead of me was explaining the complicated raw juice mixture she wanted to order. I am terrible at estimating the amount of time realistically required to do most things. I can't accuse the shop of being unreasonably slow. 15 minutes to assemble my tofu mushroom burger and nachos while manifesting compassion for all beings is really speedy, when you think about it, but I had to cope with the disappointment of missing the group bike ride. Didn't feel like doing the whole ride solo again. I got home exactly at 6:00 and consoled myself with the fact that now I could at least eat my half of the tofu mushroom burger and nachos. Realized I was hungry to the point of grouchiness. Probably would have been dumb to do that ride on only a few gulps of dinner.

However, I am pleased to report that after dinner and being distracted by an episode of "Monster Garage" in which an all-women team of mechanics and welders were tearing apart a Camaro like so many wrench-wielding Bacchae, I managed to ride my bike to the gym where I swam for about 35 minutes. 40 laps total. When I got to the pool all the lanes had someone in them and I waited for a couple minutes to see if someone would leave. The person in the far left lane had a dark blue swim cap with a little American flag on it and looked like she knew what she was doing, totally smooth and relaxed. I finally asked her if I could share her lane and of course she said yes. For my first several laps I thought I was actually swimming better for having watched someone who knows what she is doing in the water, but the effect was sadly temporary. She could do about three lengths for every one of mine, and that was in her slow cooldown phase. A friend recently reminded me of a Maxine Kumin poem about a swimmer swimming to the cadence of "Abide with Me." If I ever get to the point where my brain can stop obsessing over its silly oxygen dependency that makes it think swimming is a cruel joke, and I find myself keeping stroke rhythm with music in my head, I really will have arrived.

Knowing that it's possible someone might read this provided a little extra motivation to get out there tonight, so thanks, whether you have an opinion about any of this or not. I've finally found a way to benefit from caring a little too much about what other people think. The old Emily might have just stayed home to find out what was on after Monster Garage, immobilized by self-pity for having missed the bike ride.

Another motivating factor is that I'm not up for a lot of channel surfing right now. Listened to NPR during the drive to Oakland and back yesterday and the radio is grim enough. Even some of my clients have been too wrapped up in watching the news to talk to me when I've called in the last few days. Would be hard to justify a whole lot of self-pity at the present time, what with having all my worldly possessions intact and my family members and friends mostly in bone-dry western states. Be sure to check back later, though, for updates on future pity parties.

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