By Elizabeth Speth
Yesterday my perfectly balanced existence came unravelled.
I like to get up at four a.m. to exercise. Between the job, short winter days, morning and evening horse chores, making dinner and running errands, it can be hard to exercise regularly. You know what I’m talking about. Your to-do list looks different, but the situation is likely the same for you.
By the time evening rolls around, the wine cabinet is calling louder than my running shoes, which are actually not very communicative. They talk to me like my mother did when I misbehaved in church. With pinches.
And all the studies tell us that if we don’t move, our inert bodies will turn into flabby, depressed, chronic medical conditions.
But at four a.m., I never have appointments. Everyone who might need something from me is sleeping. Cats, dogs and horses haven’t yet manifested the signs of entitlement to breakfast that sunrise seems to unleash. (After six a.m. I can feel the equine glares coming through the walls. I don’t look out windows — they are waiting there to make reproachful eye contact over the fence. The dogs stand next to their dishes and bark, and the cats yowl and weave through my ankles until I trip right into the cat food bin.)
But at four a.m. I am alone, and the world is still dark and protective of my time. Have I mentioned that my plans are completely unaffected by the weather? Strangely, I don’t mind the lack of sleep. I can always nap while I drive to work.
I turn on my favorite cooking show (Ina Garten, how I am going to miss you in the morning!), hop on the elliptical, crank up the incline and the speed, and get ‘er done. It’s not varied, like it’s supposed to be. I’m not in the best shape of my life, by any means, but the Surgeon General assures me it’s way better than nothing. This is the same Surgeon General who says red wine is good for me, so I trust the feedback.
But then my elliptical broke. On a rainy Monday. I pushed the ‘start’ button and the thing sighed and then died. I tried everything. I turned it over. Dusted it (I don’t know what that was supposed to do, but there was a lot of dust under there), and I even oiled its still machinery for the first time in our six-year association. Nothing. No signs of life.
So I had to go outside. My tight, unforgiving schedule now in chaos, I waited for sunrise and then set out in search of hills.
A vigorous walk around my rural neighborhood later, drenched from the rain, my lungs full of fresh air, my eyes full of sights like perfect camellias (see pictures at top) and goats playing on rocks and laughing children using bus stop puddles as weapons, I had to concede that shaking it up hadn’t been all bad.
I think I may have been in a rut.
Sometimes Life finds you complacent, sees your world narrowing to just your comfort zone. Sees you softening with your smooth ride. And Life says: ‘Hey, that’s a waste of me. This isn’t why I brought you here.’
And then Life breaks your elliptical machine and turns off Ina Garten, even though she was in the middle of teaching you how to make Perfect Hollandaise Sauce Every Time.
Well, Life. Guess what? I’m not fond of the uncertainty that goes along with climbing out of a rut.
But I do like the scenery. So. Thanks for that.