Thursday, February 01, 2007

What world do YOU live in?

I've recently gained a deeper appreciation for the fact that each of us lives in a unique universe. Your universe is shaped by your perspective and the way you experience things. So is mine. Nobody has quite the same perspective, therefore none of us lives in quite the same place. Yet somehow we have all been interacting for many, many generations and haven't annihilated ourselves yet. Good job, us!

The fitness quest continues to go well -- I'm back to deadlifting more than my bodyweight (200+ lbs) for reps, just in the second week of training. Definitely possible to be lifting over 300 pounds by the end of March... muscle memory is a beautiful thing! And the nutrition plan is the best I've ever done. We find ourselves not even using all of our available "cheat" meals, because we like the food and we like how we feel.

Back to the perspective thing. My time in the gym has provided me a chance to observe some interesting people. Here are a few examples of people I've encountered recently, with guesses about what world they were living in when I met them. Yes, I realize and love the irony here... this is all based on my perspective, so I could be wrong about the whole thing. My blog, my rules, my hypocrisy. :)

#1 -- Fit Man

A guy was talking with his "homeboys" in the gym when he lifted his arms out wide and declared, "I am the fittest guy in here!". Oooookay. What exactly does that mean? What's the definition of "fittest"? He sure as heck wasn't the strongest guy in there, nor was he the fastest. Maybe he had lots of endurance, but does that make a marathon runner more "fit" than a decathlete?

His comment was totally meaningless, but even if it was possible to see who was the fittest, and even if he was numero uno, it still shows amazing amounts of ego and self-doubt. His world, at least at that moment, was a world filled with people who were competing with him.

#2 -- Dubious Inquisitor

When I left the YMCA on Tuesday, I was approached in the parking lot by a woman. She started asking me lots of questions about the YMCA -- its service, cleanliness, safety, equipment, crowd levels, and on and on...

I patiently and honestly answered every one of her questions, but each answer seemed to make her more stern, and cause her eyebrows to drop lower. It appeared she didn't really believe me, and was looking for any excuse possible to not join the YMCA. I didn't have any dirt on the place, so I didn't fit her agenda. She finally thanked me gruffly and went inside. I have no idea if she is now a YMCA member.

Her world, at that moment, was a place she already had totally figured out. She just wanted one other person to agree with her so she could feel good about her assertions.

#3 -- Grey Snow Woman

The free weights part of the YMCA is on the second floor, with windows peering out onto a new walking path that was recently built. The walkway is very nice, with gentle curves and slopes, landscaping, ponds and fountains, the whole bit.

Anyway, I look out the window during a rest between sets, and there's a woman walking out there and using ski poles. To walk. On the sidewalk. In Houston, Texas. At first I thought the answer was simple -- she's clearly unbalanced and off her meds. Next thing you know she'll probably hurl a pole at an imaginary unicorn while using the other pole as a sword to defeat the squirrel army as she sings "Life in the Fast Lane" by the Eagles.

But I was wrong. This was just my very imperfect perspective jumping to conclusions.

Instead, she's obviously hip to the latest trends. "Skiwalking' is all the rage in Europe. Her world is fast-paced and changing, and she's not about to fall behind.

#4 -- Mr. Redneck Immunity

Last night Jamie and I got to go to the Houston Rockets basketball game. Both of us enjoyed it greatly, although we would miss some of the on-court action due to our incessant people-watching. We just love observing people, especially in crowds or groups. And adults are also fascinating to us, since we spend most of our time and obervational energy on kids. And here at the Toyota Center were more than 15,000 adults... and we didn't have the kids with us.

Yet we need not look far for interesting people. On the row right in front of us was a guy, maybe 30 years old, who wanted to pass for 20. His jeans had fashionable holes in all the right places, his earring was just right, the hair was frosted, and the shirt... ooooh, the shirt. It was pale blue, slightly worn and frayed, and he had the collar popped up, Elvis-style.

Common enough, sure. But when the collar was up, you could see large letters on the underside of the collar, only visible when that sucker was straight up poppin'. And the letters spelled the following genius: P-R-E-P-S-T-E-R. We were sitting right behind The Prepster! What fortune!

I don't know exactly what world this guy lives in. And I'm not sure I want to. That's my right and my perspective, and in my world Mr. Prepster will always be on the fringe, sort of blurry and unknown. :)

#5 -- Slave or Seer?

I saved the best for last, and this one's serious. In fact, I'm going to give you a warning right now:

If you don't have 10 minutes available to watch the following video all the way through, please don't start it. Come back when you can finish in one sitting.

I'll post the video below, but if it doesn't work for you, the link is here. And the girl's blog is here. She has an amazing story and perspective on the world, and only in the 21st century, and in a handful of countries, would she even get a chance to tell it. How many thousands before her never got the chance?

You will want to skip forward after the first minute or so -- don't do it. Stick with it; there's a reason for the pacing of the clip.

Questions I Now Ask Myself

When I'm with Jamie, am I really with her? Am I paying attention, aware of her presence? Am I communicating love and appreciation? How about when I'm with Jack or Samantha? Do they really know I'm there, in the moment with them, or do I go through the motions too much? How is my view of the world shaping their view?

When they get older, what do I want them to see?

And what about everyone else? And the planet itself? Do I remember that we're all connected in a completely mysterious and amazing way? That somehow, even after the chaos, drudgery and isolation of suburban life... we're all in this thing together?


hardrox said...

What an incredibly eye-opening video!! Thanks for posting that clip, Michael. It's all about perception, yours and theirs. Great post.

Redlefty said...

You're welcome, Greg!

Reminds me of my first job at Taco Bell -- I washed dishes for two months while the pretty girl, hired the same day as me, could do whatever she wanted or just smoke all day in the parking lot.

I came home angry one night and my Dad said something like this:

"Son, you're washing dishes. And getting paid for it. Might be nasty work sometimes. All that stuff is true. But how you feel about it is still up to you. So if you're gonna wash dishes for four hours, would you rather be bitter or content?"

gobbla said...

Nordic walking is really big around here. There are huge crowds of people all out there with their poles just going at it.

Seems a little counter intuitive to me. Using the super light poles to get "more of a workout". Why not use heavy poles?

Redlefty said...

I agree -- it's whacked. I don't get it.

One think I wondered is if this lady likes to go on ski vacations and already had poles in her garage or attic. Or... scary thought... did she actually buy ski poles to use for walking in a place where it never snows?

gobbla said...

That was my thought process as well. It started with "What the hell are they doing. It *seems* pretty dumb". Then we moved on to "Maybe they're 'training'. That's cool. Some motivated folks out there". Then it went back to "It seems pretty dumb".