12/10/2008

Exercise is Not a Four-Letter Word

"Sit down as we relive our lives in what we tell you." - Genesis, Home by the Sea

Heard it on the way into work today. Haven't listened to the album in ages.

The lyric struck me - this is what happens when we gather oral history, get folks to sit down and tell stories on themselves, on each other.

This time of year is ripe for that sort of connection, that strengthening of kapwa-tao. Tao Po!/Tuloy! - I am a human being. Come share my world.

Can't say for sure what my ancestors from warmer islands gave for a reason to sit down this time of year, before the Spanish came, before the Muslim came, before the reckoning of a specific grouping of days as a cycle of life. I think it's rainy season in the Philippines - I was there once over Christmas/New Years, but I was six then and my memories are about green grass being pulled up as weeds and the fire that nearly leveled the town. I'm pretty sure, though, there would be times to do this, sit down and listen to each other tell the stories of our lives.

'Round here, cold times meant slowing down, bringing life from outdoors to indoors, gathering around a fire, doing the things to preserve life during winter, mend things that were broken, and most of all tell stories.

Reliving life, the time spent in the last few months, and reflecting.

Reflection isn't about /producing/ anything. It's not about /investigating/ or /questioning/ even. It's more about saying This is what happened. Look, we survived. I think I learned this. I think I want to do the same/different.

And most importantly, we /ask/ each other - How about you?

But it doesn't happen in a void, it happens in community - here's the thing you might not know about me, about this place, about how I'm connected to you and this patch of earth and this community and this memory/these memories.

An expansion/further meditation on Collaborative Storytelling, in a sense, but before, I'd only seen oral history as a one-way transmission, forgetting that in the act of Telling we have the opportunity to relive something lost/forgotten, to gain perspective and meaning from that. Giving and receiving all at once.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So...this post was supposed to be on how Exercise is not a four-letter word.

It's a habit of mind, I realize, that the post above, the spontaneous meditation born of a significant moment (i.e. inspiration) is what I really love the most. Something strikes me, sends me to the keyboard, gives me a moment of panic that the feeling will slip away before I reach my computer, wait for it to fire up, and locate my blog. I write and think at the same time, no pausing, except to hear/listen to what the moment is doing to my brain, my body, changing my experience into something new. It's exhilarating.

As opposed to exercise.

I know it's really about the way I've approached exercise, in writing and in physical movement. It's not spontaneous - it has to be scheduled and planned in with everything else. It's usually rigorous so the body doesn't get lopsided and the mind stretches to new places without snapping back in painful brain cramps or emotional tailspins.

I know it's "good for me" which isn't really a good motivator for someone who tends to put themselves last on the list, who prefers signature hot chocolotes over say fruit-n-protein smoothies.

But I'm learning to exercise and finding that moving/writing for the sake of exercise is a good thing. Like reflection, exercise doesn't /produce/ anything, at least not right away, but it does /feel/ good (after the initial - ohmygoshIamsooutofshape). It's something to do just for myself.

So, I got a Wii last summer and I've been getting better about getting on the board and putting in the time. I signed up for a weekly writing exercise class -

- the last session, some weird stuff came out - everything from Aswangs talking with Silkies and other characters from nearly every Filipino folktale I know. It was a long sentence, kind of creepy in a Neil Gaiman-Coraline sort of way. But I also got a cool bead on a piece about my Lolo...still stalking that one carefully. Early work is so easily spooked.

The playshop/class (at Nancy Canyon Studios) is great for generating new material and that's what I think the next few months before I start into the MFA track again will be about - gathering as much new stuff as I can and practicing...sort of like the MFA is a marathon I'm training for. There's no instruction, per se, just three exercises - first, five minutes of short sentences; second, ten minutes of chained sentences; third, twenty minutes of a single, continuous sentence.

Anyway, been off the Wii for almost a week now due to sickishness, but maybe tonight I'll get on that board, just for today and that will be good.

Next: Wisdom from the Margins

2 comments:

Snickering Corpses said...

"still stalking that one carefully. Early work is so easily spooked."

That's a very neat way of putting things, and an angle I'd not thought of before. But it fits some of my experience.

Marianne said...

I tagged you, I hope you can join!

It's the "17 Random Things About Yourself" tag.

How've you been?