[Rowing Machine] 2019: Week 08 {230.5} “The Solitary Sport”

I never was interested in sports growing up because they were always collaborative and no one would ever collaborate with me. I had trouble expressing myself, with communication, and with being around other people. I still do. I’m better now. When I finally realized I was in dire health and joined a gym, sitting on that rower felt completely natural. Now here was a sport that depended entirely on my efforts and it felt amazing.

Rowing is my anti-depressant.

I was in a slump about one hour ago. I had crouched to put some stuff away and most of my thinking went toward curling up in the fetal position and just laying there for hours or days. I feel too much emotion. It’s hard. The moments of elation are like no other; almost worth the despair and cruel self-talk that weighs down the other side of that – there’s the negative thinking weighing me down for not immediately remembering the name of the see-saw.

I’m on the floor now. [Editing note: I was writing this on my phone.]

This is the seventh day I’ve been snowed-in. Today was the first day that it seemed possible to leave. For all this fierce independence, I will actively refuse help unless I absolutely need it. I’m not sure why. Others are willing to help and I’m not worried about repaying debts. Maybe that isolated child within me cries out for validation and self-respect? He can do it all on his own, without needing help, perhaps.

I’m sitting cross-legged now.

I rowed on my little rower because I didn’t and still don’t want to go outside. Today is the first day it stopped snowing. It feels almost like a normal day. But when I get into these terribly low spots, where a beer would be nice even though I approach six years of sobriety, a drop in temperature and a little bit of rain might as well be a brutal freezing and piercing rain. My mind works against me in these lowest of lows.

That’s where rowing helps.

While I was rowing, I thought about how I could feel better. A bath, certainly, but eating some oranges and taking my vitamins popped into the otherwise empty void of my closed eyes and empty mind. Rowing is my meditative space. It’s my talk therapy. I often find that when I talk to others about my problems, it’s just a matter of me being honest with myself when explaining a situation. Not hiding behind words. Not letting myself get distracted by less important things.

It’s difficult fighting for yourself.

Yet the only important thing in life is asking yourself: “How’s it going?” Your honest answer to that question will get you so much further along than ignoring yourself and burying yourself into some escapism or hedonistic pleasure to ride out that wave of sadness that I think we all might feel to a certain degree.

How am I doing?

Not well. I took down a majority of my mint-on-card action figures to pack them up, and the reason why I hung them up initially unearthed itself: I bought a majority of these things to bring elation to that childhood self. He was often alone, and though he was able to get most but not all of these toys, it was perhaps because of the toys or maybe his own shyness that he couldn’t befriend anyone permanently.

Childhood friends would cut their friendship randomly.

The end of a school year was a time when, rather than offering a phone number or invitation to hang out, a declaration of disrespect. One kid said: “I never liked being your friend.” That was a deep memory that is now unearthed. Working through these memories is hard but necessary. There is no other way to do it. When you have these shackles weighing you down, your friends and team might be able to help, but they cannot break these shackles.

That’s what I like about solo efforts.

There’s something to be said for the solitary athlete that achieves what others considered impossible. That athlete expanded the realm of possibility for humanity. One person’s effort can change the course of his/her/their life, the lives around the person, or the world at large. Sports have always seemed to be a rather arrogant expression of physical feats, which is why it never appealed to me as a kid besides the aforementioned need for collaboration, but now I see the solitary sports as enhancing one’s self.

Rowing has helped my writing.

Ten minutes of vigorous effort where no one else can be the judge of whether you gave it your all, except yourself, practiced over the course of years, can help with other disciplines. That endurance can be transferred into wading through negative thoughts to return to a positive outlook as it can for sitting in the same position and writing for over my word count minimum.

Time for those oranges.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 230.5
Last week’s weight: 229.5
– Difference: I’m on this weight plateau and as long as I don’t gain too much more weight, I’ll be fine. It’s the stress of the move. After this is done, I’ll return to twice daily rowing sets, and feel more at ease knowing where I’ll be living.
Inspirations: I had some other rowing essays in the queue but I really just wanted to write about how difficult it’s been to row lately. Last night, even, I skipped rowing because my side was hurting too much from lifting too many things above my eye level over the course of the day.
Related: Past weekly column entries.
Picture: A quick doodle of my rower.
Written On: February 13th [30 minutes]
Last Edited: First draft; final draft. [Other than one editing note and fixing a few unintentional typos.]
My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)