Several times a week, I do the escarpment stairs near my house. I used to have to force myself to do my tri-weekly jogs and/or stair work outs, but I’ve grown to really appreciate them as it gives my brain a chance to decompress. I go at the end of the day after my kids are in bed and the streets are quieter – peaceful. It’s amazing how much it clears my head from the day and process things that have been mulling around in various corners; this has become especially important since working from home and not having a drive home anymore where I can let my mind wander… while I focus on the road. This past January my back was too sore for several weeks to get out, and it was crazy how… crazy I became. When I don’t get out my emotions start to build up and whatever patience I have disappears (two and four year olds are really good at eroding your patience), and I have to really work at not wanting to explode because there’s so much junk just under the surface that needs to be processed. Brain clutter is like house clutter – it can make us short tempered.
Exercise Tips: Find an exercise that’s good for you and you can tolerate. For instance, I chose jogging and/or doing the stairs because it’s way more tolerable for me than doing a spin class, especially since they can be done on my schedule and without any cost, which is important to someone who’s cheap like me. After picking a tolerable exercise, pick the number of times you can logically do it in the week based on your schedule even if it’s once and then choose whether you’ll schedule it during the week or on the weekend, in the morning, afternoon, or at night, with another day and time as a backup in case you need to do a rain check. I originally scheduled my work out right after putting my girls to bed, so I would tuck them in, get changed into my pre-chosen jogging clothes, put on my shoes, and get out of the house with as little thinking as possible. Thinking ruins plans for things you don’t really want to do. Once you start thinking, you go down the path of convincing yourself not to do it. The best way to get into something you don’t want to do is to schedule it and arrange things so you don’t have to think. Eventually, like shoving vegetables down your throat, you get used to doing it, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll learn you need it to feel better, which helps motivation. The same thing works for sex with your partner when you’ve gone through a short dry spell (long dry spells are different), and hopefully you’ll learn to like it again. This, of course, is a concept that’s foreign to teenagers who can only think about sex: (teen) “Wait, you mean old people can go without needing or thinking about sex for long periods of time? Being old sucks!” (me) “It has it’s perks… like the extra 20 pounds I carry from cookies because I’m not trying to pick up a girl.”
The other benefit of doing my stair workouts is when I get to the top of the escarpment I can look out across the city. It’s amazing how sobering it is because when you’re up high looking out whether on the top of a mountain, a tall building, or from a plane or glider (an experience I recently had and I highly recommend, https://www.sosaglidingclub.com/introductory-flights.html), it’s amazing how small everything looks. When you’re looking down, it helps put things into perspective – I’m not that important. There are so many people and so many different lives being lived, that my own problems, suddenly don’t feel as big; they are a minute part of a grander scheme. I first got this lesson when I was 19 in the hills of Scotland looking down at the town below – it blew my mind. Seeing the world from this perspective is an experience everyone needs to have, especially those who struggle with feeling sorry for themselves and if they think they deserve special treatment in life – no one is that important. The reality is the world carries on with or without us. We are a blip in the grand scheme and proportionately valuable to those around us depending on how we live our lives and how good we are to them.
That being said, as unimportant as we may be, we also matter – it’s a strange concept. The other night I was in South Hampton (near Sauble Beach) at my wife’s family cottage. If you can marry someone with a family cottage in a great location, I highly recommend it… obviously. After my girls were in bed, I was able to go for a jog along the boardwalk of the beach into town. After taking a few minutes at the edge of town to look up at the stars and enjoy the vast beauty of a clear and star filled night sky, I made the jog home. Looking up at the stars is another way to remember how insignificant we are, but on the way home on the boardwalk of the beach, I had another realization. I must have hit the jackpot on timing because I’ve never seen the moon like this. It was a waxing crescent (I had to Google that one) and setting into the horizon across the lake like the sun did several hours earlier (South Hampton is one of the best spots to see the sunset). Picture a clear dark sky with a moon like the DreamWorks’ logo (without the boy fishing on it) glowing a light red and shooting a light across the lake right at you like a spotlight. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was incredible. No matter how far I ran or how fast I went, the spotlight-like-reflection off the moon across the water followed me (as you’d expect because that’s how light and reflection works). After a few minutes of realizing how amazing this scene was, while slowly jogging, looking at the moon and its skinny reflection in the water connecting me to it, I heard a voice in my head say, “You matter.” This wasn’t a message to me specifically; it felt more like a reminder that we all matter. Some would say this voice was their subconscious talking, but I believe it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me like it does on very rare and special occasions (or maybe the aliens who abducted me last time planted a radio into my head). It was a beautiful moment as it reminded me that I may be one in seven billion people, but I still matter… at least I matter because there is a God who loves me and is brilliant enough to be able to meet each of the creations He gives the breath of life to in a personal way. In that moment, I felt reassurance that I mattered because God knows me and I know Him. There’s an argument that we matter without God because we affect those around us, but if there isn’t a God, I only affect other insignificant beings, so my significance is still limited.
What was particularly interesting about the light red of the moon – a colour like I’ve never quite seen before – is it can be considered symbolic of the blood of Jesus, which is the greatest act by God to show that we matter: God the Father allowing terrible people to torture His Son until He died on the cross. As a dad, if a bunch of ignorant jerks were about to hurt one of my daughters, I would do whatever it took to protect them and expect them to fight for themselves, but God the Father withheld protecting Jesus who also chose not to defend Himself in order to die and bring salvation to the very people who killed Him. It’s a crazy idea when you think about it: (new person to the idea) “So you’re saying God, a father, and a divine son in human form with miraculous powers just accepted a horrific human death in order to help the very people who regularly rejected Them and eventually murdered Jesus? Yeah, that’s not a believable storyline for a movie.”
What added to my moon experience was at one point I ran under a street light that was a bug festival, and for a moment I lost sight of the moon as I had to cough and spit the bugs out of my mouth and wipe them off my face. This is just like how we can be connected to God, but we can lose sight as we deal with what’s in front of us – I like symbolism. Shortly after that, near the end of the boardwalk, there were a bunch of street lights lighting the path much brighter than before, which caused the reflection of the moon to fade under them. It was very representative of how the more glitter and glitz this world offers the harder it can be to see God’s love and provision. This has been shown true in Canada, a country whose anthem speaks of God because that was the culture of the time; we have fallen so far. The positive side to this is God’s love is best seen in the dark… or when you’re self employed and relying on customers or clients to keep you providing for your family like I do. When you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck, it’s amazing how different life can feel.
What becomes particularly important about these two life perspectives is we need both in order to create the balance: On one hand, we are nobodies and on the other, we matter. That is the simple truth that we need to remember because if we focus on being nobodies, it’s hard not to feel depressed, and if we focus on how we matter, we can become entitled jerks. We need to keep both of them close.
This week may you remember the balance.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)