Today I’m talking about life, and the cold.
Today it was about 10 degrees fahrenheit out which is pretty damn cold if you’re tasting it for the first time coming from a balmy 40 degrees. Before that it was below zero, windchill was down in the 30s and 40s below. I went out though. I had to pick things up. It was cold. It sounds like death where spit freezes almost instantly to whatever it hits and your nose forms crystals inside every time you breathe in and ankles turn pale grey from the wind whipping at the tops of your slightly too short socks. It sounds arctic is what it sounds like, and it sounds like a tall tale until you’re living in it. January cold is another breed of cold.
But today it was 10 degrees and only a few wind wisps here and there. I went out in a t-shirt and a coat, didn’t really need the hat, but I still put one on. I was warm, cozy, happy to be out on a sunny day where standing in the sun would make me sweat. It’s 10 degrees – warm.
And then there are the warmer parts of the world. While people in San Francisco (I know this from living there) bundled up in 50 degree weather, I (as a transplant) was out in a t-shirt loving it. The sad thing is that coming from the other way, from summer to fall, I would think it was cold too, but would still probably wear a t-shirt none-the-less. But right now, 50 degrees sounds like sunbathing weather and I’d kill to be out there.
Wisconsin cold is like life though.
I have been the victim of cold in my life. The ever present lowering of expectations to the point where what once was seen as not an accomplishment has now become a very big one. But that’s really not all there is. When my expectations were lowered, I shot lower because now it seemed like a big thing. In reality, it was like the lukewarm temperatures of San Francisco, cold to others, warm to me. And I lost sight of reality. So I nibbled and scrounged for small things to claim as achievements, and when those things did happen they fell flat because they were in fact flat. Upon falling flat, my expectations would lower because nothing seemed to really work.
This is not depression. Well, it is, but depression needs more. It’s depressive-like. It’s a mindset.
I learned that I was aiming for lukewarm when biking today. I had no way to gauge how far I was going since it’s a real bike just hooked up to a resistance machine. I had no way to gauge how fast I was going either except for guesswork and a some gerrymandering the figures to make myself feel better. Then I bought an actual computer for my bike and saw everything. I saw my weight, I saw my pathetic heart struggling, and I saw that I wasn’t going nearly as far as fast as I thought I was before. After not exercising so long, biking was a 10 degree day when biking, it all was nice, but still in a fairy land. But now I have some reality, brutal reality.
The scale will not lie to me, nor will my computer. I can’t keep pretending that it’s warm outside when everything points to it still being pretty damn deadly and will kill if you spend the night outside. I can’t keep pretending that I am the same fit 21 year old that could bike 100 miles and do 100 pushups. I’m older, flabbier, can still put out 28 solid pushups, but that’s not the same thing, and I do less with my life. I had become so acclimated to the slide that I didn’t realize that losing five pounds was not enough, nor should I just stop there. Nor that I should settle for my body being the way it is considering that I am in my twenties.
And it spilled over. The physical reality check took hold and started me thinking about my job, where I would like to go, what I am capable of. But more importantly, it made me think of what I should be capable of. If I just put in some effort, what could I get done. I needed some reality today, I got some, and now I’m starting to see more reality in my life. So I’m forming a checklist of big things, actual big things, and I’m setting it to the physical deadline to be accomplished. They’re not impossible, but they’ll need daily work to come about.
So, in three months I’ll bike a hundred miles, do a hundred pushups in a single rep, and along with that are all the other things that I want to be in 3 months.
And it’ll be warmer by then.