I’m not sure how to describe this day without sounding too optimistic and giddy; it was a day filled with triumph for me. It started off with my parents visiting unexpectedly (which is usually stressful, by the way) and bringing me some food and also introducing me to their new dog. I goofed around with their new dog for a bit and my parents left without the usual hubbub of telling me everything that’s wrong with me. I got some good news on the work front, got some more sponsors lined up for our upcoming Expo, and found out that a few more friends bought tickets and will be attending.
This is the third day of working on re-doing the pond in my backyard. The pond is a symbol of my life; when I moved in to this house with my wife and young kids back in 2004, the pond was beautiful, clean and healthy, filled with wonderful fish, amazing lotus blooms, toads, snails, and cattails. As my life and marriage declined, so did the pond. When I nearly gave up on living in 2005, I certainly gave up on taking care of the pond.
Over the next three years, as I neglected my own well being and happiness, so too did I neglect the pond. It became infested with weeds, reeds, and muck. A rat took up residence under the bridge. Weeds grew all around it. All of the fish died.
Lincoln bought all new fish for it, and they all died again after this winter. This isn’t supposed to happen because there are two deep spots that don’t freeze, where all the fish congregate in the winter.
When the winter freeze finally let up (only a month ago!) there were little fish corpses all over the place. I imagine they made good dining for the rat. The pump broke and so water stopped flowing through the stream that is designed to filter and aerate the water. For the last month the water has been stagnant, slowly evaporating, and basically turning into a mosquito breeding ground and total mess.
So three days ago my good friend Scott came over and we started dredging it and emptying it. It was absolutely wretched and disgusting work, and we began to realize what kind of project we had gotten ourselves into. The reeds had taken over and formed a complete network of thick root structures; so much so that they had basically filled up the two deep spots. No wonder the fish died! The water, at its deepest, was only about 12 inches deep instead of almost 40. The pond froze solid because there was so much muck and roots at the bottom.
Dredging it was incredible difficult work (and is not done yet), but Scott, Lincoln, and I have been making good solid progress these last three days. I got one half of the pond basically finished and we’re almost done with the second half.
Imagine, then, my shock when I saw movement in the water. I had been standing in this cesspool for hours and suddenly I saw movement.
I thought I saw a little mouth opening and closing. A fish! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Lincoln insisted that there was no way, it had to be a tadpole. We kept on dredging.
Minutes later, I saw him again. It was definitely a fish. We got a net and I caught him. He had been gasping for oxygen in the water and was probably very near death. I absolutely have no idea how this fish survived. The only thing I can think of is that he was very recently hatched from eggs laid before his mother died.
I put him in a bowl. His name is Lazarus. He is a deep gold color, and he’s a fuckin’ survivor.
The rest of the day was equally successful. I finally signed up for a gym today. I went, and worked out with my friend James. It was painful, exhausting, difficult, and awesome. I felt like a million bucks (sore and soft, but a million bucks) when I left.
I got home and found out some more great news, that someone I’ve been excited to meet has confirmed travel plans and will be visiting me this summer.
I was highly disciplined with my diet today (you can view my Fitday if you’re interested. It’s boring), cooked a great meal, and then got ready for my walk.
I wanted to go to a 24 hour store that is 3 miles away from my house, because I needed a cable for my computer. I also really wanted to push myself and see what I could do, physically, in a day. After the hard labor of the pond work, the workout at the gym, did I still have it in me to take the longest walk I’ve ever taken? This was a six mile trek.
I did it. I walked the entire route without stopping (well, I stopped when I shopped and went to the bathroom) and never experienced any muscle pain. I am certainly tired; exhausted even, but not sore. A month ago—hell, two weeks ago, there is no way I would have been able to do this. I still can’t believe the change that has come over me, fitness wise. I am not this person; I do not do heavy yard work. I do not go to the gym. I do not walk SIX MILES. Not me. Someone else.
I look in a mirror and I still look fat. I don’t look any different, from my own eyes. It used to be discouraging, but one of the most important changes I’ve made recently is my attitude: I just don’t go down that road anymore. Down that road is failure. If I start to question myself or think about how far I have to go or how hard it’s going to be or how little I have changed even though I’ve been busting my ass, I will despair. I just don’t do it anymore.
That may be the single biggest change I’ve made so far.
I guess this is what they mean by the present moment.