Simpler Things

Ever heard of “CrossFit?”  We hadn’t until a friend who is a little touched introduced us to the practice.  A small group gathers in a gym together with an instructor, who offers a strenuous warm-up, followed by exercises using different types of gym equipment.  A large number of repetitions are expected and a larger volume of sweat is secreted.  The idea is that no two CrossFit sessions are the same, thus the exercises work even the “unused” muscles in the body. The following day, sore and very stiff, we have been known to mutter, “I could have lived the rest of my life contentedly without troubling those “unused” muscles.”  When I told my grown children we were dragging our weary bodies through CrossFit, they said, 

“You’re too old,” and, “It’s a cult!” 

Whereas the first observation may well be apposite, –  to be sure almost all the other sufferers are our children’s age, (or younger), the second is not.  At our, (Shawn’s) gym, CrossFit is about challenge and community. The spirit is that we are in this together, we encourage one another, we applaud each other’s accomplishments , we try not to compare, but to share.

A little touched friend

In the last couple of weeks, we spent time with Bea, an older friend. It seemed to her that her whole life was consumed with doctors’ visits, after a lifetime of  responsible self-care, a progression of overgrown children in white coats were intent on telling her how to live her life. So, in an act of independent defiance, when she twisted her ankle, she resisted all clamor that she should go and have an X Ray. (In case you are concerned, the ankle slowly healed and Bea chases her great grandchildren around without the hint of a limp.)

Bea’s act of defiance got me thinking about how much of our contemporary lives is taken up with “maintenance.” Let me share an impromptu “to do” list that we sometimes think we need to take care of before we can get round to the business of living!

First, in these sorry times, get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands (for at least twenty seconds,) avoid crowds.

Then, eat a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, exercise, trim nails, shower regularly, (and clean the shower afterwards), visit dentist, dermatologist, doctor, (and, in my case, ophthalmologist,) check for breast lumps, (yes guys, you too,) wear sunscreen and a hat, make sure you’re hydrated, your bowels regulated, hair conditioned.  Pluck  strong, stray hairs from your chin, ears and between the brows. Now, spend time outdoors, check for ticks and ear wax, attend to your spiritual needs, monitor toenail fungus, engage with community, find work of meaning, get the ‘flu shot, the shingles shot and any other shot, take part in activism, moisturize your skin, give to folk in need, exfoliate, communicate with friends and family during “quality” time, recycle, keep your brain active and well-informed, laugh a lot, try new things, take appropriate risks, get enough sleep, be creative, listen to music, keep your will up-to-date,  AND finally –

take time to relax!

It’s exhausting! Perhaps you agree.

Recently, I discovered a poet who likes to keep things simple.  Listen to Emma Watson reading Wendy Cope’s “The Orange.” 

(And later, look for her poem about September 11th 2001, in our End Notes.)

Wendy has the audacity to break the rules and misrhyme “laugh” and half”, but she gets to the essence of simplicity when she says,

“… And that orange
It made me so happy

As ordinary things often do …”

We’ve found that – yes, there’s a place for challenge as our feeble attempts at CrossFit show, but let’s not get too carried away with what we ought to do, who we need to become, and look to the simpler things in life.

When Bea determined to follow her own cautious course to rehabilitate her ankle, it freed her up to appreciate the little things in life.  And, as dusk fell in her luxuriant and somewhat unruly garden, she caught a glimpse of a single moonflower. These delicate blooms open at night and wither in the morning. Such a shame to have missed that.

So, I’ve paid more attention to the simpler things. A call or a good text with my children, the cat purring too loudly by my ear when I’m trying to sleep and, unlike Wendy Cope, who practices healthy eating, I’ve indulged in the exquisite pleasure of a simple, fudge cookie!

How about you?


End Notes


Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

Out Stealing Horses
Per Petterson


The Indian Doctor


Lighter than Paper
Jack Jones

Don’t Let it Bring You Down
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn


Wendy Cope

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