‘Getting involved will be as difficult as rising before the sun rises, and pounding the pavement to get in shape. Our society will degenerate over time if we choose to stick to the same old, same old.’
LITERALLY, I mean.
It is no joke. Not for one no longer a spring chicken. Not on days when the breeze is so Arctic cold you savor the warmth of the sheets and pillows. Not on days when you don’t seem to have gotten enough sleep, whether you turn in at 2 a.m., 12 midnight or even 8 p.m. Having to get up while the sun is still in hibernation, having to don your sweatshirts and lace up your shoes and do a few stretches to warm your ageing muscles up – doing these is no joke.
But even to my own surprise, I’ve been doing this and running since April of 2020, when in response to the pandemic our authorities decided to order the shut down even of private gyms like the one in the building where I reside. In the beginning it didn’t bother me, the fact that I could no longer lift weights and all; this will be temporary, I told myself. But a week became two, two weeks became a month and I began to feel at least one law of science catching up. Entropy.
And that’s why I chose to run, something I’ve never really done before. I said to myself that running would have a number of instant benefits: it would bring me outdoors, where the existence of “viral load” so often talked about would be overcome; it would pump my heart and more importantly my lungs, organs that are stressed most by the virus; and it would force my body to tone up the way it has never been toned up before, shedding in the process the body fats and the calories I had accumulated through the years.
What was most surprising to me is that I not only began to like what I was doing, I would now miss it when conditions made running impossible. This despite the fact that every run started with the most difficult few steps, but always ended with me soaked in sweat and huffing and puffing but filled with a sense of accomplishment.
I am running because I need to stave the natural degeneration of my body as much as I could. Ultimate degeneration is inevitable, but you and I have a choice: do we live in a manner that hastens that degeneration, or do we live in a manner that slows it? No question: choosing to sit in a lounge chair holding a remote control on the one hand and a bag of chips on the other (or a box of ChocoMallows for me) is such a relaxing and joyful moment, one that is as tempting and as addicting as a vice.
Contrast that with waking up ahead of the roosters, and pounding the pavement for 3 kilometers – and to many, the choice is obvious!
But our choices have consequences.
As my news feed is now filled with images of politicians being urged to vie for higher office, I cannot escape the thought that what applies to me and my body applies to all of us and our body politic. A vibrant and progressive democratic society can only remain vibrant and progressive if you and I choose not to sit idly by and opt instead to get involved. Opting to get involved won’t be easy, especially for ordinary folk; we are usually only important and coveted during the 45 days or 90 days that the politicians seek our votes. But before and after that? Who cares about us?
Getting involved may very well mean looking at the list of choices we are being given, and wondering: is it the “same old, same old”? But more than wondering, getting involved may mean finding like-minded Filipinos who are tired of the old ways and tired of the old names and tired of the old promises and are determined, this time, to go beyond griping by taking matters into their own hands. Like organizing discussion groups, for example. Like coming up with lists of people qualified enough to become public servants, many of them really reluctant to wade into the political arena, but who could eventually give in when presented with what is at stake.
Getting involved will be as difficult as rising before the sun rises, and pounding the pavement to get in shape. Our society will degenerate over time if we choose to stick to the same old, same old. Of this, I have no doubt. Only if you and I choose to participate actively will we stand a chance of making things better.
Many people have come close to giving up, believing the future does not bring any hope. I too have come so close to making the same conclusion, but I’ve been able to take a different path. Just like I once wondered whether the maintenance pills prescribed me were going to be my companions for life, by choosing to run I am slowly bringing my body to a much better state of affairs that sooner or later I am hoping I will be able to give up some of my pills. Similarly, I am hoping that enough Filipinos are woken from their slumber and realize that more of the same will no longer do, that we have to get up from our state of idleness and that there’s only one way to make sure the future is bright.
It will be bright only if we take action, only if we choose to make it so.
In the meantime, I think we should all run. Warm up, lace up and pound the pavements. Enjoy the outdoors and the cold breeze (while it lasts). Force your heart and your lungs to pump while you burn the excess fats and calories you’ve taken on through the years. Take it from someone close to retirement: it is never too late to run. It is never too late to strive to be healthier, to be better. And yes, as in my case, the journey itself is already the reward!