Thanks to the Muse


A week ago Friday I was on my morning walk, saying good morning to people on Twitter as I went. I got a response back from @neildance824 that snowballed into something big. The relevant tweets are shown below, with Neil’s in blue italics.

April 16th

Good morning everyone. How are you?
woke up in pain from dance classes! U?
I’m well, thanks. Man, I need some aches like yours. I’m having a hard time getting back in shape.
the best is to join & commit. You must want to do it – dance, gym, etc. I’m about to join a gym in NyC soon!

April 17th

Gud AM buddy! I just want to say it’s been great to view ur daily life appreciations! Thank u!
Thank you! And I wanted to tell you that I appreciate the reminder you gave me that being healthy is about wanting it enough..
u’re very welcome buddy! Remember Action is Power!!! Wow I sounded like Anhiny Robbins – love him!
I know that – as a matter of fact it’s one of the biggest lessons I ever learned. But sometimes we need to be reminded of what we know. Part of me wants it, but another unfortunately substantial part of me is messed up and just wants to eat.

April 18th

U’re very welcome buddy! Have a FunTastic Sunday!

April 19th

Gud AM! Great weather yes!

Good morning. Grace told me yesterday that blossoms have been exceptionally beautiful this spring because of cold weather.
u go!
Thanks! Y’know, I’m thinking that I should take advantage of Twitter as a willpower helper more often. I mean, the narcissistic aspect bugs me, but if I can draw that little bit of extra strength required to not eat that muffin, or to do the workout, then it’s a good thing.
oh def. Tweetz had help me a lot with questions about anything! Be swell!
it helps when the number goes up! But what counts got us good connections – like with u! I probably have a handful true fr
I say work out , then treats afterwards hahaha

Yeah, unfortunately I need to work out for about six months with *no* treats to get back in the shape I want to be in.
be strooooong buddy! U’re my inspiration to be good!

Nothing wakes me up like having someone give me advice that I already know. I want to yell “But I know that better than anyone!” but another voice quenches that umbrage: “Yeah, but apparently you needed to hear it anyway, didn’t you?”

I did need to hear it. I know it better than anyone, yet I needed to hear it. That stark contrast made me stop and think of how unconscious I’d become. I’d spent months making halfhearted attempts to turn my behavior around while paying lip service to how I was going to get in shape. But I just kept numbly reaching for my bottle analog. Even I didn’t believe the words.

And then Neil came along, and I looked at his profile and saw that he was a dancer. I thought of how cumbersome my body had gotten, and how I’d collapse if I tried to dance for a minute. Over the weekend I became more aware of the dichotomy inside me. I saw with what numb intent I had come not to know what I know.

On Monday evening, as I was doing my exercises, I was thinking of the conversations I’d had with Neil since Friday. I had become more aware of the rut I was in — no, it was more than a rut. It was a dreary basement fighting ring where two parts of myself were going around and around, and the worse part seemed to have the upper hand. I had to do something about what I saw, and I wondered what it could be.

And I thought of these dancers I’d seen at City Hall Park on the previous Thursday evening.

The shirtless dude was awesomely muscular: not muscular like a weightlifter, but muscular like a wrestler and a gymnast put together. Every muscle was standing out like a cord. When I stood at City Hall Park watching him dance, I thought of how good it felt to be at my most lean and muscular about five years ago. Now, after the conversations with Neil and four days of thinking, I was ready to do something more than want it.

And I thought of the movie “Julie and Julia”, which I just saw recently. Julie Powell used a blog to enforce her goal, and it worked: she stuck to it and accomplished something big. Maybe I could do the same thing with my weight.

The idea of going public with my weight and my relationship with food was both embarrassing and unsavory. I’m a very private person; I don’t like drama and I don’t like the masturbatory aspects of modern discourse that blogging represents.

But it was was a new idea — something I hadn’t tried before. And since I didn’t have any other ideas… I said “What the hell” and did it.

It seems to be working out better than I hoped. Now, I’m not saying that Neil is responsible for that and I’m not saying that Neil is my hero. I’m responsible for my accomplishment; Neil is a guy who happened to give me a little nudge exactly when I needed it.

But that little nudge? If there is such a thing as magic, that’s it.

I was a mess, and becoming more aware of it. I’d seen “Julie and Julia”. I’d seen the dancers. So it’s possible that I was already a hairsbreadth from a tipping point. But that doesn’t mean that I would have gone past it. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken that last step, and the system would have gone back to the zone of miserable stability.

But instead Neil came along, and he was nice and friendly and he offered a tiny bit of well-intentioned advice. And this small act came together with some other factors in my life, and they brought me past that tipping point. And here I am, feeling once again grateful for the magic of serendipity. This is the latest instance I’ve witnessed of how people can change each other’s lives, not by doing anything intentional but simply by being there and being themselves at the right moment.

The older I get, the more I observe defining moments in my life where I changed for the better not because I was trying to make that particular change, but because I was open to what came along. This is another example. It affirms my belief that the most important thing I can do for my self-development is to be receptive to the Muse. As I wrote here,

The thing about the Muse, though, is that she has no regard for what you or I think. That’s exactly as it should be; I believe in waiting humbly for the Muse, and being nothing but grateful if she deigns to swing by. And I believe that the most profound expression of my gratitude is to grab her mane and ride her for all she’s worth. I don’t ask questions about her destination, and she doesn’t ask questions about my mixed metaphors.

Thank you, Neil, for being my latest Muse.


One Response to “Thanks to the Muse”

  1. Come out, come out, wherever you are! « The one I feed. Says:

    […] Neil gave me a little nudge that magically started this ball rolling. The blog stats give me another little nudge by letting me know that there are people reading at all. Reader feedback gives a magical nudge, because then I can feel us helping each other: I gave Jay a little nudge, and by telling me his story he nudged me right back, and that gave me more energy, which I then shared with my readers… you get the picture. […]

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