“BE NOT AFRAID OF GOING SLOWLY…”
By: Lauren Anderson
I woke up groggy this morning. Not sure why, but I was. As I lumbered out of bed into upright standing position, I stood there for a sec, wiping my face and not moving. Then the voice in my head started.
“C’mon Anderson, let’s go.”
I’ve written about the voice in my head many times before, and thankfully this morning it was pretty chill. It wasn’t a drill sergeant, or judgmental, or anything. Just kind of tough-loving me to do the next thing. Reminiscent of a zookeeper trying to get a bear to move so they can spray down the enclosure.
I was kind of grateful for it too, because had it not been for the voice, there’s a pretty good chance I would still be standing next to the bed rubbing my eyes. Sometimes sleep looms like a shadow and it’s hard to break free, ya know?
I walked slowly to the bathroom. I took a full decade to squeeze out my toothpaste. I brushed my hair as if for the last time. Occasionally I would stop. And just stand there. Then the voice again.
“C’mon on girl. Let’s go.”
I moaned like the reluctant bear, and walked slowly to my closet. One paw in front of the other. I put on my workout gear and a new pair of unicorn socks. (An important detail if you’re like me, and sometimes a dash of whimsical waggery is the only thing that can properly motivate.) Then the jacket. Then the boots.
Somehow, I’m out the door. My boots crunching the old dirty snow. It’s a slog through the slush and sludge. The grey misty day mocks me. I stop before I have to cross the river of ice that has formed in the alley, and I just sigh again. Then the voice.
“C’mon buddy. Keep it going.”
The bear in me moans and shows it’s teeth a little, but the zookeeper knows I’m only bellyaching. I penguin-walk across the ice, and reach my car safely. What usually takes less than a minute to cross the lot to my car, has taken about seven. I am one stubborn bear.
But that’s the day today. I try not to judge it. I’m grateful my car can do the work of moving for a bit.
I blink and I’m there. Walking up to the old familiar building. Somehow bright against the grim background nature has chosen today. I walk up and see the orange sign. The yellow bolts painted on a white building. I pause before I go in, and stand there.
I ask myself, “All right. It’s been awhile. Are you sure you can do this?” and the zookeeper (aka the the voice in my head) answers. “C’mon Anderson. Get through the door.”
I fully realize I’m not just talking to myself anymore, but listening to questions asked and answered inside the noggin. I’m not worried though. This is everyday business in the mind of the over-imaginative.
And just like that, I’m through the doors and back at the box that has changed my life. I am greeted by faces I haven’t seen in a while. Smiles and “How are ya?” echo through the room. My coach says, “It’s good to see you.” And the bear in me, gets excited.
I made it. I made it. I’m here. And now the work begins…
I chuckle at that idea. Class hasn’t even started, and I just fought the slowest, dumbest, battle with myself to simply get to class. And like everything you’ve ever heard from anyone anywhere, once I got there it was worth it. IT’S ALWAYS WORTH IT!
So why? Why is it so hard to get there?
* * *
A friend of mine was recently kicking around the idea of moving away. They are in a transitional state much like myself, and was legitimately wondering if there was anything new to be discovered here. I said that I support them no matter what, and for selfish reasons I wanted them to stay-DUH. But I also understand if they had to go.
I said, “I guess I just have one question for you. Are you moving to run away from something? Or do you think you will be running to something?”
They heard me and said, “Before I do anything, that’s the question I have to answer.”
That conversation got me thinking… Cause there are days when I run toward the gym. Excited and motivated and ready. Yearning to move my body and throw some weights around. Then there are days when I am running away from something else like: a hard day at work, or a heartbreak, or jealousy, or grief, and I END UP at the gym.
In those instances, I know if I can end up at the gym, I’m going to process something in a beneficial way. The simple act of moving my body will help me. I know, because my own history has finally taught me this.
So what’s the difference between the days when I choose to run to the gym and the days when I run to a Jameson on the rocks instead? Well, honestly… I don’t have an answer for that yet. I’m not sure.
If I had to guess I might say it’s a whole pile of other factors. Like time of day and my mood. And honestly, whether I’m even ready to begin processing whatever it is I’m dealing with.
Like I said before, the gym moves things along in my mind and body. It zookeepers the grumpy bear inside from A to B, by the sheer act of motion. It’s a glorious thing if I really stop to think about it. It’s like the movement is a mitzvah for my troubled mind.
And then there’s the Jameson. Which in my opinion, can only press stop. Nothings moves or changes, but it does freeze — if only for a little while. And sometimes that’s all I can do. Stop, numb out a little, until I’m more ready.
There are times when I think stopping or ducking out for the day is the healthiest choice too.
The gym helps me move through it, but sometimes I’m not ready to go. Hence the Jameson.
Hmmmm…. I think I might’ve answered my own question after all.
But don’t get it twisted, I don’t advocate always using Jameson to do it. For me, pressing pause sometimes is listening to a song on repeat. Or marathoning “The Good Place”.
You get where I’m going here…
* * *
So what about days like today? When I’m not running to or from anything? But I also don’t want to tap out on the day either? And I still wanna get my ass to the gym and move a little bit– What then?
Well perhaps now is when I look to the Chinese Proverb, written on the first page of a quote book I bought myself on a whim, from a gift shop at Wall Drug, during a High school Thespian Trip. It says this:
“Be not afraid of going slowly, be only afraid of standing still.” -Chinese Proverb.
Today’s workout was beautifully curated to this idea too. It was a Every Minute on the Minute or EMOM workout. Meaning that the work was a constant 30 minute METCON, but with built-in rests.
Row, then rest. Wall balls, then rest. Then repeat for ten minutes.
Jump rope, then rest. Waiter walk, then rest. Repeat for 10 minutes.
Then situps, then burpees. You get it.
I moved through the workout with intention. Even a few smiles. I let myself rest. And when the new minute cycled around, the zookeeper in me said the familiar words, “C’mon Anderson– Let’s go.”
And before I knew it, we were done. And I felt better. I’m still a little groggy and grey today, but not as much as I was on my way to the gym.
It may have taken me 7 minutes to get to my car to come to the gym. But it only took me two minutes to get from my car to my apartment afterwards.
And that’s saying something.
I think it’s good for me to stop once in a while and rest. My mind, my body, my spirit. As long as it’s not for too long that I forget to move through whatever it is I’m dealing with.
And there are days when I want to go go go! And those days are good for me too.
But in the days in between? I think it’s okay to keep plugging along– slow and steady–like a sleepy bear, grateful for the inner zookeeper that encourages me along. And for Chinese Proverbs in quotes books reminding me it’s okay to go slow.
Speed is not a reward or even the point, when I am doing the work of a lifetime.
Cause I’m still moving forward. And that counts for something.
It all counts.