Lenten Journal, Day 34

My intention when I started this exercise in Lenten discipline was to write for an hour each morning with no preconceptions about what I would be writing. Just sit down, put a figurative piece of paper in my imaginary typewriter, and start pounding the keys. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but I have made the attempt (most days) to at least write something sometime during each 24 hour period.

Similarly, it was my intention to return to the gym (the Medina Recreation Center) this morning and do another half-hour of aerobic exercise on the recumbent crosstrainer and the indoor track. And similarly it’s not going to work out that way.

At about 2:45 a.m. this morning I work up unable to breath, my nose running and filling my CPAP mask with snot! Not a pretty picture. After several minutes of blowing my nose, I knew there was no remedy other than to arise, go down to the den, and try to sleep sitting up in my recliner, and that is what I did. An hour and a half later, the dog woke me up demanding a pre-dawn walk. In fairness to the dog, he rushed to the tree lawn and pooped, so I guess he was telling me the truth.

I returned to the recliner and dozed a couple more hours, awoke again, made coffee, and two hours later I find myself still with a runny nose, still filling a trash can with tissues, and now sneezing and coughing.

The annual spring cold. It’s not an allergic reaction to something; plenty of tests have shown me to have no allergies except to some pretty specific medical preparations and oysters (let’s not talk about that one). It’s just a cold. I hate colds.

So … best laid plans (as Bobbie Burns advise a wee mousie) gang aft agley. I am public health conscious enough to think it unwise to go to a public gymnasium while suffering a contagious disease, even a minor one. While there yesterday, I noticed at least one fellow old fart using a portable oxygen tank and sporting a “cardiac rehabilitation” t-shirt and I suspect that there were other cardiac or pulmonary patients there with us. I’m not going to expose them to unnecessary risk.

I am, however, going to keep my commitment to getting some exercise for the benefit of my knee. From my garage to the second intersection west of our home is one-half of a mile. Sometime this morning, I will put on my New Balance walking shoes and strike out, climbing the slight hill from here to there and then returning. I haven’t done that for quite some time, but it’s a lovely day and I’ve made a promise, so that’s what I will do.

I do this for my own good, working out my own salvation (as Paul wrote to the Philippians[1]), perhaps not with fear and trembling, but with stiffness and soreness. I wrote yesterday about my dislike of physical education classes and part of the reason for that is my dislike of being held to arbitrary standards that have nothing to do with me. I also wrote recently about my dislike of my third grade teacher because of her constant comparing me to Rick, my older brother, whom she had had as a student a decade before me. PE classes held all of us to some standards set by a presidential council on physical fitness; she held me to the standards of an older sibling. Neither standard, neither set of expectations were determined in any way that had anything to do with me; they were as equally applicable to Mary Smith or Bob Brown or whomever as they were to me. And I certainly had nothing to with them.

I’ve often looked at Lenten disciplines like that. Arbitrary practices that really have had nothing to do with me. Give up chocolate. Pray twice a day. Read a chapter of scripture. They are set by other people for other people. Standardized spirituality. One-size-fits-all religion.

This Lent, however, I set a very personal goal. Write something every day. I’ve tried to connect the things I write to Lent and spiritual discipline, but that wasn’t really my goal. My goal was just to develop a habit of writing. Now I’m adding to that. Develop a habit of physical activity. Stop being a sedentary person. Do it for me, not for someone else, not to meet someone else’s standards. Work out my own salvation. If my Lenten discipline is going to mean anything, it has to be about that. It has to be personal.

Lent is nearly over and I’m just figuring that out. So, I won’t go to the gym today, but I will take that walk.


Click on footnote numbers to link back to associated text.

[1] Philippians 2:12