It is something I do without any thought these days; I just wake up and go. There is nothing to think about, no decision to make; I just do it every day – get out of bed and exercise. This morning after a short stroll through the garden, past the pool and up the stairs to the fitness centre, I realised I was the first to arrive. The gym in the complex where I live is small, without the blast of a music system or the tedium of television to invade my space.
Nearly an hour passed before my solitude was interrupted and soon all the cardio equipment was occupied and noise filled the room. The new arrivals were engrossed with electronic equipment, headphones, mobile phones and social media. Ceiling to floor mirrors reassured them. No one even knew I was in the room. One day last week I noticed a young man enter the gym, sit on a bench and he scrolled and flicked the gadget in his hand. At about 12kms into my bike ride, he stood up and left. Continuing my ride, I was bemused – was he so distracted that he forgot to exercise or was his phone his choice of cardio equipment for the day?
Exercise is a workout for my body and mind. I contemplate, ponder, create, remember, compose articles for my blog, think of news to tell my family, sing songs in my head; time quickly slips away while counting to ten in French or Thai or remembering the days of the week in Spanish. I challenge myself; I succeed; I am totally blank; I feel rather peaceful. Being present only in my thoughts, I have clarity, understanding, light-bulb moments. Sometimes in the void an emotional tear forms and I recognise both sadness and happiness. Looking through the windows I admire the familiar distant hills surrounding the city; scanning higher I observe the constantly changing sky. I can anticipate the weather for the day from the colors, shapes and movement of the clouds. The accuracy of my personal, hands-free, self-developed App is rather impressive.
There is a corner of the garden where yesterday the trees were heavily pruned and the sun is slowing shining through. Tiny plants and cuttings lovingly cared for by staff are beginning to thrive and stand tall, their new leaves display a contrasting color. I am mesmerised by birds, barely the size of the palm of my hand, building their large nests.
Suddenly, two birds land on a branch near the nest and I am trying to decide if they are pecking, arguing or playing when one suddenly flies off. I follow the flight to a nearby tree where I spot another nest in the making and I understand the protectiveness of these creatures. Then, two more birds land on a branch of a tree barely 2 metres in front of me and begin to mate and peck; side by side they sit, heads resting together, then more pecking and more sitting; one stretches tall, head flung back, feathers puffed-up before flying away.
My day has just begun.