After adjusting to apartment living for two weeks now, although I’m not the noisiest neighbor, at least I hope not, I would be with the dull white noise of the Concept2 Model B rower. Although it is nostalgic, has a nice aesthetic, and has utility beyond belief, not here, nor in the next apartment. I couldn’t row at my full potential whenever I want with it, whereas at 11 pm, I could row on other ergometers.
March, for me, is about new beginnings. Six years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, rather than reminiscing over memories of my childhood dog and the joy he brought, I selfishly indulged. Photos of Patrick aren’t full of regret, rather, his smiling face encourages me to smile. I lost something between then and now. I don’t what exactly, but some sort of profound hole of satisfaction. We had smiles when we were young. Let’s keep smiling.
Louder rowers envelop you with white noise. It’s an oppressive sound that even with hearing protection still prevents anything more than even more unnatural sounds to pierce through it. This sound cacophony easily quiets external distractions but also dampens internal distractions. As you’re rowing, you first focus on your pace, then whether anything hurts, then you just forget about yourself, your rowing, and all that’s left is a solitary peace as you escape the noise.
No one talked about insobriety-related problems when I was growing up. Not just familial, but any media. While it’s a weird, controversial thought: If there’d been even one source of media, one cartoon, that accurately addressed how terrible it is to live with this aching sense of addiction aimed at children, I probably wouldn’t have started. But then, if something like this existed, would I be here? Or would someone else be writing this column?
I haven’t been consistently exercising since I kicked this massive downsizing decluttering project, “Moving Zeal,” and there are parts of me that are justifying that by saying: “Well, you’re moving boxes around. Some are really heavy.” I also have been not sedentary for most of the day, so my metabolism is up. I’m sleeping more, too, and my weight has been within the same range. Still, I miss rowing: the effort, obligation, and self-confident satisfaction.
Unearthing this object was terrifying for me. Contained on this piece of cardboard are memories that are not positive, dispersed throughout my first two years without alcohol. I was still coping with the world as it is, a merciless, unpolite place that will consume you if you’re not careful. I’ve donned a bit of a jester attitude toward life perhaps in response to that. Nothing else is as serious as your daily pursuit of meaning.
If I’m honest with myself, my interest in rowing has tapered off over the past few weeks [as of this publishing]. I used to row twice daily, now if I row a few times a week, it’ll be a welcome change. I’ve let the discipline of exercising slip. Sometimes, it’s understandable, where if I’ve moved boxed all day, that’s one thing, but on days where I’m just writing? Let’s not use excuses about why not.
Overcoming the allure of insobrieties, in many ways, taught me the discipline I needed to start pursuing what I love doing. When you’re stuck in misery, the natural inclination is to let that beast take its way with your emotions or physicality. However, when you look at that challenge to work even though you’re exhausted the same way you look at not drinking, it’s easy to just say: Alright, let’s suck it up and go!
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.
Getting outside yourself can be a useful exercise in developing empathy and not feeling so alone. I know the days I’m feeling in the worst funks, or not feeling like doing much, where I’d rather stay home than meet new people, I think my natural inclination is to go in a hype mode, whereas, why not just go anyways? If you’re awkwardly standing around, that’s fine, because maybe you’ll find some others similarly feeling awkward?