Category: exercise

Traveler, there is no path.

On the subway ride home, I stumbled across a familiar quote in the book I am reading. The quote is from a poem by Antonio Machado, one of the great Spanish poets of the Generación del ’98.

Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

I had just finished my workout, during which I had muttered under my breath with exasperation, “Yeah, remember? I can’t do single-leg deadlifts with my left leg,” and he looked at me sternly.

“Of course you can. I’ve seen you do it. Maybe your left leg doesn’t do them as well as your right leg yet. Maybe it doesn’t look how you want it to look. Maybe it needs more help and support from time to time. Maybe it feels shitty. But I don’t want to hear you say you can’t do it. Every day, just by doing, you’re getting better. You’re learning, you’re practicing. Walk the path.”

I got home and stumbled upon Maria Popova’s reminder about Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, “a minimalist, maximally wonderful allegory at the heart of which is the emboldening message that true love doesn’t complete us, even though at first it might appear to do that, but lets us grow and helps us become more fully ourselves.”

I thought about being able to walk on my own, roll out my edges on my own. Taking shape before ambling down the path of life side by side with someone else.

Though he never answers it, Machado writes:

Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it.

themissingpiecemeetsthebigo24  themissingpiecemeetsthebigo23

Images from Shel Silverstein’s book, borrowed from Brain Pickings. 


from Times Alone: Selected Poems

Cielo y tierra pasarán.
Cuando cielo y tierra pasen
mi palabra quedará.
¿Cuál fue, tu palabra?
¿Amor? ¿Perdón? ¿Caridad?
Todas tus palabras fueron
una palabra: Velad.

Heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth have passed away,
my word will still remain.
What was your word?
Love? Forgiveness? Affection?
All your words were
one word: Awaken.

post postscript:

For fun,

The absence of vices adds so little to the sum of one’s virtues.

— Antonio Machado

Be a student of falling.

Life lessons that were disguised as yoga advice from classes I attended this past week (I took mental notes during vinyasa and tried to remember them accurately to share with you):

  • Think of the harmony of opposites in Eastern culture. That yin exists within the yang. And for yang to exist, there must also be yin.
  • As in yoga, stillness must exist in movement and movement lies in stillness. This is how we find truth. Be open to fluidity. Be also open to pause.
  • We have all these pre-defined images of what things should look like. What our bodies should look like in a certain pose. What relationships look like when compared to a certain “normal.” That only when we have arrived at an advanced pose, then finally we will have accomplished everything. However, true openness exists at every step of the journey to the pose. The openness exists in the deepening of awareness and breath, regardless of the pose.
  • Use props to help you- it does not mean you are weak. It is okay to have support to gain stability and assuredness.
  • You will fall. If you don’t fall, you’re not approaching the edge of what you can do. Be a student of falling.
  • Sometimes the smallest and softest actions can be the most transformative.
  • Just because a choice between many options is offered does not mean that you must change course from the path which you are already on.
  • Revel in choice, but do not be afraid to settle on the one that opens you the most.

A few months ago, maybe in April, I took my first spin class. 

Lifechanging? Probably not. Impactful? Certainly. There were few physical activities this year that made me feel completely useless. One was snowboarding. The second was hiking uphill for hours carrying 40 pounds on my back. The third was spin class. Okay, fine, the fourth was probably breaking my own heart.

Now, I struggle with recovery. I referenced a quote from Ana Forrest’s Fierce Medicine:

“I’d believed that in order to do what I was afraid of, I had to get rid of the fear first, but that turned out to be only an idea, not the truth. You have to do something two hundred times before the fear will disperse. Are you still afraid of something? Just do it again. Do it again. Do it again.”

For as long as I can remember, I don’t think I have ever just stopped being active for a period of time. Now it’s a mental battle. Lacing up my shoes. Picking out smaller weights. Facing the way my muscles shake, even at 1/2 the weight I was using just two months ago. Dealing with how my breath seems like it wants to quit just 15 minutes into something. The flexibility I’ve lost. The strength I need to gain. The yoga poses I can’t hold for as long.

Things that were easy then, now feel like war.

I intend to fight it.

My doctor talks about professional athletes. The slow progress they make. Basketball players jogging slowly across the court. Then around it. Then playing horse. Then pickup games. Practice. More practice. Are you scared? Do it again.

I feel my fear building, about how weak I feel.

I am stalking my fear. 

My fear of failing, my fear of love, my fear of pain, my fear of being injured. My fear of the unknown.

Let’s go hunting.

PS- a favorite lyric from Bjork:

if travel is searching
and home what’s been found
i’m not stopping

i’m going hunting