Jogging The Memory
Steven Wright used to tell a joke about his house being on the median strip of a freeway. It was a one-liner, as all of his are (When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, "Did you sleep well?" I said, "No, I made a few mistakes."). But it stuck.
It's a sweet metaphor, if a little too on the nose. It's a nice image of a busy day from the start, having to back out of your driveway at 60 miles per hour. My days aren't so hectic lately, and I usually have at least a couple of hours to warm up, but I've been alive long enough. I know the feeling.
I have that feeling today.
I read an article this morning about Amazon and some of the economic downsides of its impending monolithic whatever. Which is like talking about the constitutional downsides of Donald Trump. This sort of thing is what the word disruptive was designed to describe. We know, we know.
I've started to read fewer articles like this, I've noticed. I've always been a sucker for life hacks and other free advice I could glean online, but I've stopped suspending my disbelief and about time. Sure, I'll still probably click on a headline that says Why You've Been Making Coffee Wrong All This Time, because, y'know. Science. Also? Coffee.
But I know that most of these pieces are written by 27-year-olds who are paid in moldy pennies and air kisses. I'm not tapping into universal wisdom here. I met a young writer the other night, doing a (freelance, I'm sure) story for AirBnB at an event I was participating in. She admitted that this was a gig she was uncertain about, having never written anything similar, and she looked a little lost (but dutiful, and professional, and she asked pretty good questions, so).
So I probably will pass on her article about why I should dump Amazon Prime. She should dump Amazon Prime. No way she can afford that. I'll figure out my own situation, thanks.
And there it is.
I bought a running belt from Amazon the other day. You know. A fanny pack thing. A thing to carry your stuff. A lightweight, thin belt that holds my phone and keys, etc. You can use it for lots of things. You don't have to be running. Walking would work.
It was about 10 bucks. The reviews were all fine. I mean, I don't know. It was about 10 bucks.
I ordered it spontaneously (YOU THINK?) because I have this idea that I'm going to start a new life hack. A new project. A new habit or hobby or a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea, and it starts today, Gonna go for a run.
Running/jogging started creeping into the American culture in the late 1960s, mostly a reflection of Dr. Kenneth Cooper's book Aerobics and then taking a big leap with another book, Jim Fixx's The Complete Book of Running.
I just wrote that from memory (I checked the title of the Fixx book a second ago, but otherwise, yeah). I was completely onboard with running from about the age of 11 or 12. I seemed to have good endurance, if pretty average speed. I wasn't interested in being a miler, anyway, even if I loved track and field (I mostly did the field part). I ran a lot from junior high throughout high school, sporadically at times but easily picking it back up. I bought the Fixx book when it came out in 1977.
OK? Just trying to minimize the advice that comes my way. Especially if you're a 27-year-old freelance writer. I think it'll be OK.
But it's not like I know how it'll go. I literally--I know what the word means--have not run for exercise, or for more than 60 seconds, in nearly 30 years. I had no intention of ever doing it again, and if I ever showed the slightest interest in doing one of those bucket-list crazy things like train for a marathon...well. Instructions have been written, sealed, and left in a safe place.
I just wanted a change, and a new game. I've walked for exercise over the past decade or so, miles and miles, every day, but that's dwindled lately and it's hard to get excited. I do other things, including some light weights, and I get a perfectly acceptable level of weekly exercise, more than most. But it doesn't have the sizzle anymore.
And I'm a simple guy, who doesn't want to need equipment or a membership or to see my doctor first. I just want something new. I'm gonna run.
The logistics were stopping me, which is where Amazon came in. I can walk with keys jingling in my pocket; running needed a little help in that regard, and sure enough there are things to help. So this belt comes today, and I'm going to strap it on and head out and do some running.
Trust me. I've got another 1500 words on this subject, particularly surrounding people and their later-life delusions. Particularly male-type people.
But I'll make it easy. I have absolutely no problems with my knees, and I want to avoid having these problems. This is why I swore off the idea of ever running again, and why I'm going to be very careful. Very observant. Very diligent about all sorts of things.
My exercise capacity is fine. I know what I'm doing. I'm mostly curious, so I figure I'll warm up, walk a little, then set my Runkeeper app to Run, shove my phone in the running belt, and give it a mile. If I can run a mile, which I imagine I can but I have no idea, really. Or how I'll feel.
And, I swear to God, I will turn this car around and stop running if I don't like it. If I don't enjoy the experience. If it pushes my paranoia buttons when it comes to my knees and other important joints. If it HURTS.
Seriously, I'll do it one day and then quit, no problem. You can't win if you don't play. And maybe it'll be fine, and I'll make some light running a regular part of my routine. Or maybe I'll do something else that's different.
It just seems a little crazy, to me, this idea. I was very clear about not running again in this lifetime. There have been many conversations. But dammit, I bought the belt.