Intolerable Liberty: Writing 3

Rats!  I am squeezed for time and won’t be able to put the time into this post that I might like.  I have about 20 minutes I guess.  Actually, I have all day.  There’s no place I have to go or anything I have to do.  Being retired, I am at liberty.  For what? I am not sure.  But to tolerate this empty liberty I have found it very important to have a routine.  A routine is a must; otherwise I might just drift off into oblivion.  Once upon a time, my work imposed a routine.  Now I must impose the routine on myself.  And I had wanted this daily writing thing to be part of the routine.

I am attempting to make this writing thing a “practice.”  I have other practices too, such as cleaning my teeth and washing my face.  I also meditate daily for twenty minutes.  I have read about meditation, how to do it, to breathe and so on.  And occasionally, when I meditate, I think about these things.  People ask, does meditation help?  Frankly, I don’t know.  It’s a practice is all.

I also practice twice daily with a device call a “Heart Math.”  It’s a biofeedback device.  I stick it to my ear and it monitors something.  I think it’s a scam.  But for the time I use it I am listening to my breathing and letting thoughts come and go in my brain, as the device “registers” the coming and goings of my thoughts.  I am pretty sure I am not damaging myself with this routine.

I don’t know if doing this helps either.  I guess the point of a practice is to get better at whatever one is practicing.  That used to be the case, I suppose, when I played basketball as a youth and young man.  But honestly, while I have been meditating for five or six years, I don’t believe I am any better at it now than when I started.

I also exercise daily.  This too is a practice and a routine.  That’s why I am squeezed for time today.  I need to start getting ready to practice my exercise.  I do it at the same time every day.  I get on a stationary bike for 80 minutes, I swim for 30 minutes, and I take a steam bath.  I have done this nearly every day, excepting holidays and breaks for illness, for about seven years.  And I am getting no better at it.  No, I am getting older.  Not better.  What can I do about that?  I am not faster now, or trimmer, or stronger.  I am slower in fact, and I ache much, much more.

My old therapist, from many years ago, retired when she was 80.  I think I wore her out.  One day I asked her the key to aging, how to tolerate it; she said “Adjustment and Discipline.”  That was that.  No explanation.  But she had formerly been a concert pianist, and still into her seventies, she practiced piano two or three hours a day no matter what.  Maybe that’s it.  Practices… Routines?  You do them and insist upon them as discipline, as about the only way you have to exercise control over this intolerable liberty.