I have many friends who like to claim status as introverts, misanthropes, or hermits.
Maybe they are those things… but only a little. Six weeks of “quarantine,” shelter-in-place, or stay home orders have them filling up my inbox with a steady stream of messages about boredom, or wanting to go places, or see people, or otherwise get back to their lives as usual.
Meanwhile I’m over here living my life as usual.
We’re out in the tall grass of introversion, here kiddies. The Great Plague is for deep end hermit-ing. Maybe my friends do need a little time away from people now and then, but me, yeah, I was built for this shit.
I hadn’t really planned the long winter break to also be a break from writing, but as it turns out being away from the office reduces the amount of things I have to bitch and complain about to unnaturally low levels. Being away has been a great thing for my blood pressure, but a horrible thing for blogging. It’s a sacrifice I’d be perfectly willing to make if it wasn’t for the need to actually produce an income.
The break is all but over now, so I fully expect that we’ll have ginned up a full head of steam before long. Just knowing that the end is near is more than enough to set off an occasional eye twitch. It turns out quiet time with the books and animals and an occasional trip out for fresh produce really is a lifestyle choice I could sustain indefinitely.
The real pity is that there’s still so much time on the clock before I can put that ideal into practice. At least I have something to look forward to.
I think I’m beginning now to understand why old people always seem vaguely angry. The world I knew, the one of my youth, the one I was infinitely comfortable with, isn’t the world. The leaders have all gone. The stars are going. Even the countries aren’t the same and the maps have been remade. It’s disconcerting to realize that nation-states and their seeming permeance are anything but.
Society is far more open and tolerant than it was “where I come from.” I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. In most things social, I’m mostly happy enough to let peopled do their own thing so long as they aren’t troubling anyone else. Activities and lifestyles that weren’t even mentioned, or only mentioned in whispers in early 80s are not just tolerated now but celebrated. In half a human lifetime I already find myself looking agog at the way the world has changed.
I’m enough of a student of history to know that the change is inevitable. People and institutions adapt… and those who refuse to adapt are swallowed up by the vast sweep of time. As those dark scientists in economic say, “in the long run we’re all dead.”
If you stick around long enough maybe you get to see everything you knew as true eventually turn out to be something else entirely. That would probably be the real curse of eternal life. The time and place I’m from didn’t get it all right, but it wasn’t all wrong either. New and different doesn’t necessarily mean better, but neither does old and tested. There’s a balance to be struck, but if I’m any judge of human behavior we’ll inevitable swing the pendulum too far in both directions simultaneously.
I know a few of you out there are all gung ho about your exercise routines. You run marathons, lift six times your body weight, and participate in all manner of physical exertion. More than a few of you have commented about how the effort leaves you feeling energized and wanting to go harder and do more. See, right there is where you lose me. I’ve tried a lot of it over the years – free weights and machines, walking, jogging (aka my feeble attempt at breaking into a run), stair climbing, resistance training, etcetera and so on. Where these activities leave you feeling energized, they leave me feeling tired, achy, sweaty, and generally like there are a dozen other things I could have spent that hour doing that would have left me feeling more productive for the day. It’s not that I reject the obvious benefits of these activities so much as it is that I find them mostly dull, tedious, and often painful. Hard as it might be to believe, that’s not the exact recipe for keeping me interested in something.
However, my semi-annual visit coming up in January to my Teutonic doctor and he’s going to ask the inevitable question about doing a minimum of 30-45 minutes of cardio a day. I won’t lie to him, because lying to your doctor is just bad policy, so with the impending visit in mind, I’m back on the wagon. And by wagon, I mean the cursed stationary bicycle that lives in the basement and for the last three months has served as an improvised laundry drying station. So at least when he asks, I can tell him with a straight face that yes, I’m doing the requisite number of minutes per day. I’ll leave off the bit about hating every minute of it since I’m fairly certain that’s not medically relevant.
I envy you people who find your exercise regimen personally fulfilling. For me it feels an awful lot like three hours a week that I’ll never get back.