Never Done (and still never done): Zumba
A friend of mine posted this as her Facebook status: "Today is a loss. Stick a fork in it. I'm just trying to entertain myself for 2 hours. Then, we hit reset." That happens to me sometimes too. Occasionally it happens when I have so much to do that my brain freezes up and I get paralyzed. More often, it happens when I have too little to do, and can't quite organize my time effectively, and I get paralyzed. Most people who know me know that most days, I am the opposite of paralyzed -- long list, mostly accomplished by the end of the day, or if not, then by the end of the week. The last couple weeks have been tough though. The problem is that I have too much work to do, but not enough of it pays. And that which does pay doesn't pay up front. So how to prioritize? Usually I've been going from most pressing deadline to most pressing deadline, but not staying true to my own long-term plans and priorities. And the past couple days, I just fizzled out and accomplished very little on any work front.
Yesterday was a total wash for work (although I should say on my behalf, I was doing a good job of taking care of someone close to me.) So when I went out in the afternoon to get some medicine at the wonderful local family-run pharmacy (Ansonia Chemist) and was greeted with incredible warmth and familiarity, it felt comforting. While I was waiting for the prescription, a man came in, who was also greeted with great warmth and familiarity. I saw him from the back, and he seemed like a nice, 60-something, Park Slope guy -- nice jeans, balding, friendly. I heard him say something about a trip he was about to take, and something about his line of work. And then a younger woman came in, and the pharmacy staff made a big deal over how much better she looked. I guess she'd been pretty sick. And the guy made a big deal over how he'd had to go into Manhattan to get medicine for her, and then I caught it. There was something special about this conversation. The woman was glowing a little too much, and the staff was shining a little too much light on the guy. And when the couple turned to leave, I saw why: it was Patrick Stewart.
When I told a couple friends, they both responded the same way: "That has to be your blog post for the day!" But I didn't agree. I felt like running into Patrick Stewart in the pharmacy was pure chance, and didn't require anything on my part. I didn't choose to run into him in the pharmacy, and once we were there together, I don't think I learned much from the experience. (Except that three of my queer women friends have big crushes on him.) So I was determined still to do something I'd never done, even though all I felt like doing was going to bed early and hitting the reset button.
One of the 13 mides, (or middot) in Mussar practice is Diligence: Always find something to do. I find this useful when I hit paralysis. Mostly it reminds me that there always IS something to do, and it's not necessarily work. It helps to have a gym nearby, and a big beautiful park. When I got home I checked the gym schedule, and there was a Zumba class listed for 8:30pm. I decided to go. I went early to stretch, and found that the room was already filling up 1/2 hour before class was to start. The crowd was friendly and talkative -- a very different vibe from the serious spinning crowd. I asked them what to expect, and they said, "Just don't worry if you can't follow all the steps." OK, I thought, I can do that.
When the teacher arrived, she apologized in advance for being sluggish. Apparently she was a substitute, and had just been called in after she'd already eaten a big meal. And then she flashed a beautiful smile, and asked if anyone minded starting class 10 minutes early. No-one did, so she put on music, and started teaching us steps -- all showing, no explaining. The room was packed, and so I could neither see her directly, nor could I see her in the mirror. I followed as best as I could, and felt like I was in some kind of a crowded, mime African dance class -- a room full of confused dancers trying not to Zumba on each others' feet. After about 15 minutes, I wasn't clear if we were doing the workout, or still doing the warm-up, but there was a lot of stepping on twisted knees, which didn't feel very good to me. Also, I started to feel claustrophobic -- caught in the middle of a mime dance routine from hell. When that song ended, I grabbed my water bottle, and slipped out to go work out on the elliptical machine, feeling like I had failed Zumba, and failed to do something I had never done. That's when I noticed a woman behind me, who had also slipped out of class. I turned to her, and she said, "I am so angry. I don't know what that was, but it sure as hell wasn't Zumba!"
It was such an interesting moment. This woman was angry, but I felt relieved. I hadn't failed Zumba. I hadn't even taken Zumba! We both went into the cardio machine room, and she got on the treadmill, and I hopped on the elliptical machine (tshuve) and did a hard 30-minute workout and realized that I was going to be writing about Patrick Stewart after all. And then I went home, went to bed, and hit the reset button.