Well, for the first time a semester has started and I have no classes at all, as per Charlie’s suggestion.
I plan on taking a number of talks and workshops and things, so I can get some credit this semester, but I think he made the suggestion because he’s going to make me very busy later in the semester and wants me to have time to get ahead on my work hours. So I’ve been working a lot, both on campus and off.
It’s funny, Charlie said he wanted trail work to be the thing I did to meet my athletics requirement (even though technically I don’t have an athletics requirement as I got it waived since I’m already a runner), so I’ve been doing trail work, but I’ve only just now started to realize what he meant. I mean, obviously hiking trail maintenance is physically demanding—it’s exercise, especially when I have to hike out to distant worksites and back in time to meet my various other commitments. But there’s something else, too.
The thing is, I was home visiting my parents this past weekend and my brother and sister-in-law came over with the baby—and my sister-in-law said something like “Wow, Daniel, have you always been that graceful? Why are you single?”
Yeah, that’s what I thought, too—huh?
First, I didn’t know women liked graceful guys. It’s not really a word I associate with masculinity. Second, I’ve always been kind of tall and awkward. Grace isn’t something I’ve ever associated with me. But a lot of people have been saying things like that to me lately. Mostly women, which I’m not exactly complaining about. Someone at work asked me if I’m a dancer. Someone else told me I have excellent posture. A woman actually whistled at me on the street a week ago—which I kind of liked, although I don’t think I’m supposed to. Women don’t like being cat-called, I know.
I think I must actually have better posture than I used to. I move better. That’s what they’re noticing.
I was thinking about this, and it’s really been a long time since I’ve gotten injured, like tweaked a muscle or something, at work. And while I’m really not all that strong—I mean, I do alright, but it’s not like I’m built or anything—I’m better at moving heavy objects than most of the other guys at my landscaping job. I can move around balled and burlapped saplings, cases of equipment, that sort of thing, that it normally takes two or three guys my size to move. I wasn’t always like that.
I’m pretty sure that what’s changed is the way I move, the way I handle my body. Again on Charlie’s advice, I’ve been attending Karen and Kit’s morning exercise classes for close to a year and a half now, as a way to support the physical part of my trail-work. Karen’s class is general fitness, flexibility, and body awareness, while Kit’s is what she called practical yoga—instead of the traditional asanas with their poetic names, she has us doing movements and poses that are useful for daily life. I think it’s mostly the same poses, but re-named and adapted a little. So it’s a body mechanics class, plus medication and breathing exercises. And when I work in the woods, I use the poses and movements from the classes whenever I can apply them, so that I won’t get injured when I’m alone out there. And I guess it’s spread to the rest of my life, too.
And I think this was what Charlie meant. The thing is, trail work isn’t like running or aerobics, which you can basically do wherever you go—it’s more like competitive football or something. To get a chance to play, you need to be good enough and lucky enough to get yourself on a team, and there isn’t necessarily going to be an opening in your area. So it’s not like trail work is necessarily something I’ll be able to take with me when I graduate.
But I will be able to take proper body mechanics with me. It’s like how Charlie used listening to birdsong to get me to become more aware of sound, he’s used trail work to get me more aware of my body, myself as a physical object.
And apparently, it’s made other people more aware of my body, too. Which, as I said, I’m not complaining about.