Dear Ones –
For me, the negotiating begins every day at dawn.
I mean, the negotiating begins the MOMENT I wake up. The very first conscious thought I have is, "I'm not doing it today."
"It" = exercising.
The very first thought of my day = NOT DOING IT.
Absolutely not. Not today. Too tired. I exercised yesterday, so that's good, right? Anyhow, it's the holidays. I'm busy writing – writing is more important than exercise, right? My ankle is sore. It's the wrong time of the month. I didn't sleep well. I just washed my hair yesterday and I don't want to have to wash it again today after I get sweaty I have that phone meeting at 10am. I don't have time.
NOT DOING IT, I tell myself. NOT TODAY.
The problem is, I made a promise to myself that I would exercise every day. Not because of how I want to look, but because of how I want to feel. Because one day, a few months ago, I put my hand on my heart when it was beating hard after a session of dancing around my living room, and I realized: "Here it is. This is where my very life abides — right here inside this miraculous machine beating inside my chest. And this thing, this heart of mine, wants nothing more than to be strong."
So I made a promise: EVERY DAY. I will honor the gift of my life by making that heart beat hard and strong every day. For at least twenty minutes. Whether it's through dancing, running, swimming, biking, or doing jumping jacks in a hotel room after I get off the airplane. Let that life source beat strong.
But at 6am, I don't want to. I never want to. As I brush my teeth, the negotiation continues. I say to myself, "How about we just go for a brisk walk, just for ten minutes?"
By the time I'm lacing up my running shoes, the negotiation has advanced: "I will run today, but not far. I will run slowly. Maybe only fifteen minutes."
As we start running, the negotiation moves forward: "Twenty minutes. But slow. Really slow. And I will hate and resent every moment of it."
I plod forward, frowning. I put the earbuds in my ears. I start listening to the ridiculous gangster rap and hip-hop that seems to be the only thing that can get my legs moving. I know that today it won't work. Today I will quit.
It's cold out. I hate it.
I go anyhow, and as I begin moving, I blame everyone in my life somehow for making me do this miserable thing. I am sour and stiff.
Then it happens, somewhere around the ten-minute mark. The heart opens, the lungs open, the legs loosen. My eyes suddenly get sparked by these little tears of gratitude and awareness: I AM ALIVE. I get to be alive! In a human body! I get to feel all this — the air, the ground beneath my feet, the music in my ears, the gratitude in my soul. I shake out my arms. I sing along aloud with my good friend, Mr. 50 Cent, and I don't care who hears me.
One arm up in the air. Hand to God. Thank you for this life. I say it aloud. Thank you for this life.
My heart beats strong: THANK YOU FOR THIS LIFE.
It's going to be a beautiful day.
Tomorrow morning, I know, the negotiation will begin all over again.
But I made a promise. And I will not talk myself out of this promise. I will not talk myself out this gesture of reverence for the life I have been given.
Thank you, heart. Thank you, feet. Thank you, lungs. Thank you, arms. Thank you, Nelly and Jay Z and Kanye. Thank you, LIFE.
Let your hearts beat strong, Dear Ones. Let's go. Don't talk yourself out of it.