Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In praise of the fad and the short-lived

It occurred to me the other day that I tend to dismiss new exercise crazes as frivolous fads. It seems that every few months something new will come along and there will be neat new equipment to buy. There is yoga and “power yoga” and “hot yoga” and Pilates and NIA and the walking movement with pedometers and ski skates and skate skis and snowshoes and walking sticks and mountain bikes and road bikes and cruisers. Thrift stores are filled with old exercise bikes, Nordic tracks, elliptical trainers, and so on. I realized that I kind of look down my nose at all the equipment, roll my eyes, and see each new fad as short lived and a bit of a waste. I resist the change and am waiting for THE THING or fall back on the classic walking. I realized that if I was going to take up an exercise, something deep inside me wanted to feel a real commitment to it and to the equipment, for the LONG TERM. And I felt the less equipment, the better.

But then it hit me. Why? What was I thinking? Why be reluctant to adopt the new trends? So what if they are short lived fads? This is exercise we are talking about! If it is novel and fun and good for you, what is the worry? Why do I have to be so stoic and old fashioned and committed? If I buy an exercised DVD and only do it four or five times, so what? It still cost less than four or five classes and it was not wasted. Why not go out and try every new thing? If I do it for a while and then move on to something else-the next thing-so much the better! What is the harm? There is only gain.

My acupuncturist is a former tri-athlete and she reminds me how good it is to change the kind of exercise you do and not to stick with only one thing all the time. In new exercises you use new muscles and don’t overuse others. I realize that for years I have been trying to find “my thing” and been wanting to commit to something and there is really no reason to do this at all. It feels good to throw that out and just commit to exercise in general, do lots of different things, and even embrace new fads, if only for a short time. I don’t know what was wrong with me before! I now want to be more open minded and an early adopter of new exercise fads. It can only be fun and helpful. Let’s go!

And then there is the thing with toys. I realize that I have always tended to buy presents for the kids that were toys of the highest quality---even heirloom quality---made of nice, solid wood. And now I have a house FULL of nice toys. Why? Greg just got Rees this large but sort of cheap plastic castle for his birthday. At first I was kind of annoyed, as I had seen a nice, solid, wooden one at a thrift store, but resisted buying it because we had so many toys. If we were going to get a castle, why not get a nice one? I thought. But then I realized it would stay and likely be with us for the long term. It is great to have a fun-for-now but not forever sort of castle. It will eventually break and move on. Phew! That is okay! That is for the best!

And it is the same with holiday decorations. On the one hand it seems a terrible waste to buy a tree every year and then throw it away. And now they have those fake, carve-able pumpkins that you can carve and keep forever. It is truly sad when a jack-o-lantern decays and shrivels and dies, but it is also a great thing. It reminds me of change and the seasons and, best of all, I don’t have to keep it around until next year. It is gone, compost!

Certainly it is not good to just waste things, to buy things that pollute or can’t be recycled and throw them out, but I can surely loosen up a little. I have tended to go too far in the other direction of late. For toys, exercise, and seasonal decorations I am ready to embrace the new, the temporary, and the fad. It’s time for me to lighten up and have some fun!

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