It was nearly two weeks since I last rowed. Somewhere along the way, during my writing of A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name?, a month~long story at Eville Medical in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story,” I picked up disparately severe headaches, some disquietingly lasting several days or weeks. I felt the subtlest pangs of tension against my neck and spine rowing just now, but where’s the gain without pain? Well, right there.
Don’t do anything that causes long-term harm.
That’s probably the central tenant of any exercise program. When you’re learning about exercise, early on you should learn about the two types of pain: dull pain and sharp pain. Say you’re in the middle of a rowing set and you feel a sort of pain. Quickly diagnosing that pain will dictate the remainder of your set. A dull pain is likely caused by some sore muscle calling out its soreness to you. A little bit of ice or a warm bath will be all that needs to feel better.
A sharp pain is different.
If you feel a sharp while rowing or doing any activity, stop immediately. It could be just a sore exclaiming its soreness, or it could be the start of long-term damage. Over eight years ago, I had ignored an issue with my right hamstring for a week longer than I should have that caused damage that I still feel occasionally, although honestly, it’s rare enough to be barely once a year.
Why glorify the hustle of exercise for that potential pain?
Every day, constantly, I will walk nearby my dormant rower. It never quite calls out to me. It’s a stopgap rower. I’m not overly fond of it, but it does the job. My favorite rower is collecting more dust in storage. Still, this rower is here as an albatross of the headaches that Doctor-Number-Five stated “you are diagnosed with a headache, but I can’t put my finger on the type. Cluster headaches sound like what you are having, but without additional testing and history it would be difficult to say.”
I have sought to remove any variable toward these debilitating headaches.
What if peanut butter is causing inflammation around my brain? Cut it for a week to see if it helps. What if my chair is causing spinal pressure? Adjust the contour of the chair or swap it out. Throughout all this fruitless experimentation, my rower has collected dust. It is a patient machine. Rowers are some of the most loyal instruments you can ever hope to encounter. If you take care of them, you will receive more than you put into them. Your health will improve through using them if only you are in a condition where you can sacrifice the ever-so-slightest elements of your health to gain that improvement.
Exercise is like nonequivalent exchange.
When The Alchemist tells The Thief in The Holy Mountain, “you are excrement. You can change yourself into gold,” this can apply to many aspects of life, including exercise. In exchange for calories of “excrement” effort, you can gain myriad “gold” results, with some examples including:
– My muscles get warmed up.
– I feel more able to take on physical tasks.
– I can brainstorm through a problem for 5 to 60 minutes.
– I can meditate on nothing by focusing on the act of exercising.
– My insatiable appetite, where I’ll easily eat thousands of calories, becomes satiated.
– Minor stress demons quiet and I can better address the stress.
And yet, we have to be ready to give.
The notion of people ‘giving the shirt off their back’ seems noble, but I suspect that’s only because they’re in a position to where they can give. They don’t give the skin or flesh off their back. In this example, a shirt is a superfluous item for the giver that would benefit the receiver more, which is pessimistic, yes, yet that’s not the note I’d like to leave that thought on. When we give the shirts off our backs, that means that we are willing to sacrifice small elements of our selves for the greater good. When I give the shirt off my back to exercise, I will either be helping out someone ‘else,’ [my future self,] or I will be helping the greater good [my ability to help others through my writing or physical presence increases].
I don’t like feeling weak, struggling, or needing help.
A few years ago, I was out at a fair even though physically I wasn’t feeling well. I had dropped something. When I went to grab it, someone picked it up for me, as I had and have done for many people before and after, yet at that moment, I felt bad that I inconvenienced someone else with my inability and immobility. That is my greatest fear. [Note to stress demons: Bring it.] Being unable to write or exercise is a scary thing. Being unable to think straight enough to even write a few hundred final words to complete an essay or spend even five minutes lightly rowing. That is a fear of facing one’s mortality and realizing that despite meditating on life outside myself, my best definition of my experiences with ego death, there is still so much that I can offer to this world, yet, being unable to do so? That is a fear far greater than saying hello to that certain someone. Overcoming Shyness is a far easier task than overcoming one’s realization that there are certain limitations the mind and body can endure before they break.
Is that a dull or sharp pain?
These headaches have been mostly dull. When sharp, no matter the external consequences, I must take care of myself, firstly. Without myself, the “I” would not be able to interact with the external, so as long as I continue manifesting this physical body: When I experience dull pain, I slow down, and with sharp pain, I stop.
I didn’t wake up to sharp pain so I rowed.
|Quotes:  Doctor-Number-Five was the 5th doctor I’ve seen about my headaches over the past two months. They had been increasing in severity over the previous few months, so it didn’t creep up right away, but unfortunately for me, I ignored the severity until it took over my life.  The Holy Mountain is my favorite movie. Period or full stop depending on your leanings. There are movies with scenes that reach higher highs, contain more poignant… POV scenes, or whatever else, but The Holy Mountain represents a deeper search for absurdist immortality. Other movies tell different stories and have different meanings for different people; this is theirs for mine.|
|Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 217.5
– Last week’s weight: 213.5
– Difference: I weighed myself 24 hours ago, during the thick of a terrible headache on December 6th, and I approached 220 pounds, so this isn’t bad. I justify it by thinking about how much my head hurt and I was doing anything to feel better, including, overeating.
|Inspirations: Just letting it rip with my thoughts on rowing.|
|Related: Past weekly column entries.|
|Photo: A low shot of my rower.|
|Written On: December 5th, 2019 [47 minutes, from 10:39pm to 11:26pm, while listening to TA13OO / TABOO by Denzel Curry, in WordPress. Done editing at 11:50pm, by the way, minus a restroom break.]|
|Last Edited: December 5th, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|