Fit Philosophy

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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Monday, March 30, 2009

(past) present (future)

I've been thinking lately about Spinoza's advice: Put aside hope. Concentrate upon joy. One of the things he's addressing in this remark is the error of thinking that we have a future, therefore that it makes sense to hope for this or that to come about. What we call "past" and "future" are in fact memory and imagination. All we ever actually have is the present. "Hope" is the act of projecting what we imagine into the future. The more elaborate our "plans" for this imaginary future, the more "certain" we imagine it to be. But it never is certain; it's not even necessary. Yet this illusion about the future is not the worst feature of hoping. What's worse is the toll it takes on the present. Joy, by contrast, is always about the present. Even remembered joys restore me to the moment, for I experience them now and can revel in having arrived at this point. Hope thus robs one's life of the joy of the moment. Here's one of my favorite of Blake's quatrains:

            Who seeks to bind to themselves a joy,
Does that winged life destroy;
      Who simply kisses joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity's sunrise...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Being here...

Friday last was my final day of biking in Texas hillcountry. The 65m ride wound past Enchanted Rock. The second view is from the summit looking south on FM965, the route we took back to Fredericksburg, where I was staying with 320 others enjoying what qualifies as pre-season training for people from this latitude (44.52deg N, here in central Wisconsin). It's cold and rainy on this, the first day of my 74th year, so maintaining the improved fitness I achieved by riding some 425m over 7days in TX will be a challenge for a few weeks yet. 
Considering the alternative, it's great to have reached this annual marker, but this is no valedictory. Instead I feel enthused about the prospects for teaching, training, and especially cycling in the coming months. After our evening meal Jane treated me to dessert--involving a significant amount of chocolate mousse--and wine (Argentine Malbec, our recent discovery). A fitting commemoration, I think, of the accident of my birth. Receiving numerous good wishes today brought to mind a quatrain of Wm. Blake's: "Who seeks to bind to themselves a joy,/Does that winged life destroy./Who kisses every joy as it flies,/Lives in eternity's sunrise."