There's a petty sense of self-satisfaction when I get the first cup of a freshly brewed pot of coffee, particularly one that I initiated. There I am, filling my mug with the hot brown mud and the coffee wouldn't cease. All over the kitchen was the foul-tasting Starbucks Cafe Verona. I had removed my hands from the machine completely but the handle was stuck and a mess ensued. I did like any normal person would do and I cleaned up the mess. I felt an incredible sense of calm as I completed the task and here's why: I had lost myself in the simplicity of a black and white task. There were no complications in cleaning the coffee. I used absorbent paper towels. Threw them in an ever-ready trash can. The kitchen was back to pre-mess mode. The takeaway here is that if I just reduce my problems into very small, manageable tasks, I can lose myself in them, and then ignore them.
I went to the gym yesterday to put a dent in the caloric atrocity that was the 4th of July weekend. I propped myself on an elliptical machine and proceeded to fake cross-country skiing. Of course I had an iPod, but my attention was elsewhere. Straight ahead planted on the wall was a television airing an info-mercial for St. Jude's Hospital, trying to solicit donations. They try to guilt you into calling by showing images of children with terminal cancer and their parents with tears streaming down their faces. Sam, aged 9, had no immune system. Another boy, a toddler, had a brain tumor. I move to level 15. Sweat is pouring down my face. Other 24 Hour Fitness patrons come and go. Some try to avoid this particular TV but it's damn near impossible.
This is where I start the big-ticket guilt, asking myself whether it's okay that I did nothing the previous day but eat sausages. Should I be doing more. Do I owe it to Sam and to the toddler-boy to use my time differently. Would he be pissed at me if he knew that I sat on the couch and watched two movies back to back. Has this info-mercial rationalized self-hate? I'm over thinking yet again. I'm tired at this point and decide to go home, but not without the cleansing that 45 minutes of beating myself up provides. I somehow managed to find a morality in what I was doing. It's moral to burn calories, because, plenty of people die before they should and I owe it to them. This is what I found in my workout: moral obligation.
I could have changed the channel. I could have switched to ESPN and watched the end of the Wimbledon Men's final. This was better. I needed it to clarify, in a twisted way, my purpose in life. That purpose? To be alive. Survival. That's all there is.