Thursday, May 8, 2008

yoga miler

Finally, we get to fitness, because yesterday the still, small, voice finally said I could start the running season. This was the breaking news I guess I was getting the hint of, although for some hours I thought that which would rearrange the headlines was that night's entrance into our living room of the actor Sterling Hayden, whom a lot of people will remember as the big tall fella in "Nine to Five" who, as chairman of the board, comes in at the end to straighten out Dabney Coleman and consolidate most of the humanitarian improvements is the workplace created by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and, in her first film acting role, country singer Dolly Parton. Dolly is a perfect role model for me, actually, in the instance at hand, because this is the first time I've gone global in the journalistic mode.
I've been global for decades via telegram, letter, and occasionally even the phone, but that was always to different individuals, and almost never with a CC or any other mode related thereto.
We local soldiers three take our hour of monastic recreation for the most part with selections from the household library of modern classic films, and having recently picked up a DVD of this movie, chose it for the flavour of the night and settled in for a lot of laughs and not a few insights.
We got all that, plus Dolly's great song, and then there was Sterling.
You might say, so what? He was an old actor by then, and it wasn't that difficult a part. Why single him out when it was all that other talent that made the thing hum?
Yeah, right. But none of them were doing much in 1954, which was the year when they released Johnny Guitar and Sterling played the title role. I was in officer cadet school, CFB Picton, Ontario, and our evening recreation usually included a film in the town's one theatre, every time they changed it.
Oh, for heaven's sake, you say, that was just a western. Ward Bond, Joan Crawford, Sterling, Mercedes McCambridge and a steady flurry of deathless lines. Nobody does westerns anymore. Remember "Heavens Gate"?
I could answer, have you seen "Seraphim Falls"? but I probably should not get distracted.
The point is, God doesn't really care that much about genres when He wants to make a point. He can use whatever is at hand, and in fact he is allowed to assume that men - or women - who like to think of themselves as learned and wise, have actually read in the very early pages of the Summa where Saint Thomas talks about the fact that the more lofty the message the humbler the symbol. Thus the stable at Bethlehem, and the first news of it being given to sheep keepers, because the more lofty the message the more necessary that it be first tried out on the humble, who, not being lofty themselves, don't have as much mental fat blocking the message.
But it was not Sterling Hayden that was thus employed. It was Mercedes McCambridge. There was this scene, you see, where she is leading a posse of men and horses all hell bent for leather on getting Joan Crawford run out of town, and at the point where they all came swooping around some kind of log structure, as I remember it, I had this minor ecstasy. This was most certainly not because of any feminine charms on the part of Ms McCambridge; her lines, her make up, and her body language for that role were all heavily weighed against anything remotely connected with beauty or feminine charm.
But the ecstasy was quite lovely, connected with certain encounters I'd been having with the Holy Spirit for some years, although with no explanation at all as to why, and the unveiling of the secret waited until 1967.
I had never known that a woman could be called Mercedes - Italian for Mercy - until the night of that film. For me, that was a name given to expensive cars made in Germany.
In 1967, when I was teaching my last class, thirty lively grade sevens, in Saint Joseph's School, Nelson, I began to receive some remarkable letters from one of my students. Her name was Marianne, and her mother's name was Mercedes.
What's this got to do with fitness?
In 1980 or so, Marianne - we'll shorten it to the "MT" I usually call her - became annoyed with Western medicine, and began to study Maria Trieben, the Austrian herbalist. She retired from a very successful local career as a calligrapher, and my wife lost her favourite lead guitarist. When I took up jogging in 1982 she not only joined me at the track and out on the roads, but took the lead in acquiring the proper guide books, especially the Andersons' fine little treatise on stretching. I had never liked medical studies, but I became a moderately docile student of her researches, and gradually capable of a fairly respectable scientific attitude, although this nice little improvement in my general outlook really only settled in after I read, in 2000, John Douillard's brilliant and groundbreaking "Body, Mind, and Sport".
I discovered Douillard in our local library, while looking for a text on weight lifting, because I had joined a local gym and needed to study muscle activity. I read the book five times, finding it hard to believe that my anatomy could function so easily yet so strongly as the good Doctor said it should, and I got results, exciting results. Some right away, like the nasal breathing, some much later, after a long side trip into the tutelage of one Eric Tuttle, a martial artist with a great respect for the wisdom of the Orient, and, fortunately for me, an annual workshopper in Nelson.
It's been quite the learning curve, and of course there is some fiction coming out of it, and yesterday was the beginning of not only the new running season for 08 but also the first running season in which I've felt that I have all the basic principles adequately lined up. All my ducks in a row, as they say.
It truly was a seamless trot. I should probably patent the timetable, but then I've no doubt done enough patenting, or copyright, with some of the music stuff. Three miles, with no jog longer than two blocks, stopping the instant anything feels uncomfortable and walking until I start to feel bored. Trust the total system. With my head so full of the blogging there's more than enough to think about, but once my body is warmed up it knows on its own how to stay that way until it's had enough. And keep the mouth shut. All breath in and out through the nose. One tiny little nostril will tell you when you're in oxygen deprivation. It stings. That one I learned in 2000. I was still putting my first available active energies into the gym, so the running was always secondary, but I finally got up to a two mile jog within the system. My children and a grandchild or two have better distances.
I had been getting anxious to get out, because my lower back, owning a funny sacrum, needed loosening up, and the best thing for it has proven over the years to be jogging. Not even the recently acquired wisdom of the pelvic tilt can do the job all by itself, although it has much ameliorated the old stiffness due to garden work and wielding the twelve pound sledge - with wedges - I'm using of late on the roots and stump of a great old spruce we had taken down last fall.
The title for this piece - Yoga Miler - is the name for a domain I registered 18 months ago, then did nothing with. Now I know why. The blog was on its way.
I had registered the domain because I thought I might use it to advertise down the road when my meditations on a really long distance run were finally in order in the practical world. This was to be a 140 mile lope, from Nelson to Nelson via New Denver, spread out over a few days, sponsored by the world's major distilleries - right of first refusal goes to Glenmorangie - and featuring evening sidebar events in the arts, especially, but not exclusively, music. It would not be, must not be, an actual race. There would be severe penalties for anyone trying to make it such. Like being shot. Some of my turning point physiological instruction was given by one Kevin Wallbridge, the Yang style Tai Chi instructor in our local TCM school. In his former life, he was a marksman in the army, partially due to his having the stop breath part just right. I wasn't a lousy shot, but any means, but I know now that my range instructor wasn't as smart as Kevin
But first I have to see if I've learned enough to do this run myself.
The posts will keep you posted.

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