Monday, January 05, 2009

Firing Away

I have run into all kinds at my apartment's fitness center. The mom with two boisterous tweens nipping at her heels as she tries to stay fit against all odds, the no-nonsense gym rats who exercise like they were machines, the frail old gentleman with a ready smile and ten times my endurance, the young couple enjoying their time together in companionable silence even as they sweat it out.

But this one guy is unlike anyone I've seen before. Everyday, he gets on the treadmill, flips open a self-help or technology book, talks on his cellphone while keeping any eye out on CNN on the television. He's exercising, reading, talking and possibly watching the news all at the same time. In true to form desi fashion he never acknowledges my existence which is just as well perhaps.

I marvel at this desi bro who comes each morning firing on all cylinders, earnestly improving his body, mind, awareness of the world around without skipping a beat.I am guessing this guy is a small town desi like myself, possibly overcompensating for the lack of exposure to the world earlier in life. When the likes of us come to the Land of Opportunity, we want to make the most of what it has to offer, hoping to catch up with those who had a head start in life. We figure if we worked hard and fast enough we may even end up ahead of them.

I don't have a kid brother but this guy is so young and so fired up that I feel protective towards him like an older sister might. I almost want to tell him to slow down a bit because there will all the time in the world to race against the clock constantly, squeeze more out of the day than the hours mathematically allow - he won't have the option to do otherwise.

From the windows of the fitness center you can see ducks paddling around in the lake, the powdery snow on the trees and the blushing morning sky. I want to tell him that these things are worth one's undivided attention while there is the time and the unburdened spirit to enjoy them. While I never did what this guy does, I guess he must in some way remind me of myself from long ago and make me want to share with him the hard lessons I learned along the way.

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