To re-hab a sore and creaky right knee I have changed up my 4-5 day/week yoga routine and thrown in some non-impact cardio and strengthening exercises. That means that I had to find a gym I could get to after work a few times a week and one in which I can swim. That gym? LA Fitness in Fountain Valley. The gym I joined originally when I moved to California in February 1999!
For those readers who aren't gym-rats let me explain: a gym is like a church, and after-school sport and a social hall all mixed into one. Those who attend regularly find their spirits lifted and start to see the network of recognizable faces form. The machines become like a favorite seat in a classroom -- familiar even when less-than-thrilling. To leave one's gym is like switching teams. You have to have uprooted yourself in some life-change that requires physically departing.
And I had. I left Fountain Valley for Irvine in 2001 and never looked back. For years I worked out in Foothill Ranch and then taught Yoga there when I first started instructing in 2004. Returning to Fountain Valley was both strange and comfortable at the same time. The machines were oddly familiar, the faces were mostly different but a few old-timers still lingered including staff. The pool felt the same: too hot, too shallow, too small and altogether mine for the taking.
But what I found most disturbing was the psychology of the place. I, on a personal level, am in a completely different place than I was in 1999 -- and yet... Being on the same machines and staring at the same walls (or people) brought back extremely vivid memories of the thought patterns I had at that point in my life. How self-limiting they were. How small. Which makes me wonder if my current thoughts are so small that I limit myself year after year.
They were simple thoughts: how my girlfriend (some day to become ex-wife) was interacting with me in my apartment, where I might live after my first apartment in Fountain Valley, how much income I could earn at this thrilling new job in California. And now? My thoughts of late have been about living with my girlfriend, how I might be able to reduce my mortgage given the current US economic downturn and why I don't earn what I believe I'm capable of.
But then I smile. I realize that my thoughts aren't about how much I argue with my girlfriend (in retrospect, I suppose ex-wife was right there in my face) but rather how much I am amazed that I can spend hours upon hours with my girlfriend and adore here. My mortgage is a mortgage which I have absolute control over for a house that is perfect for me with neighbors I love and in a location I have chosen of all the places in SoCal. And my income is triple what it was when I moved to California and allows me a life of stability even as I realize I still have upward potential for far more -- my accomplishments are being recognized.
And so the gym is an absolute riotous flashback in my mind and yet makes me feel very comfortable in my own skin. And very glad to be 33, established and experienced (albeit knowing that I know very little compared to my parents and elders) compared to my 24-year-old lost self. It's been quite the ride and it's only week 2. I am a yogi at heart. Not a gym rat. That time has long since passed. My intentions, however, are to enjoy the ride. I'm glad I can recognize the familiar scenery in this second pass.
I am not running in place. But looping back for a look at how good things are... no-one should argue with that. Free, intimate, growing, succeeding. Yes.