Take it or leave it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I really enjoyed the Olympics this summer. That is, what I was able to catch of them. The powers that be chose to air the opening ceremony precisely when I was in the thick of a family crisis that could not be ignored. Good thing my priorities were straight. But the crisis ended August 10th, and by then the competition had been underway for less than a week. And so I tuned in and watched Brazil beat Germany in soccer. I watched such powerlifts as the snatch and clean and jerk with their funny names and even funnier-looking (pot-bellied) participants. Volleyball and swimming. Women's gymnastics. Track and field of course. I even learned of new events. Synchronized gymnastics involving hoops and batons, and some strange target shooting affair with laser guns. 

And from the comfort of my couch I considered all the dedication, perseverance and practice that goes into becoming the best athletes that these amateurs and professionals could be. And I thought: so many of them hardly scrape by on sponsorship deals. (Not everyone is Phelps or Bolt.) It must be all for the glory. And I thought, what if such commitment and attention to detail were applied to everyday life? What if you lived every moment as if you were that British diver trying for a 10? Wouldn't that be a life perfectly lived, even if there were no audience to cheer you and judge to score you on your form? 

So I put my theory to the test. I woke up early and meditated for 30 minutes. If you were watching you would have caught me snoozing. Oh well, I guess I needed the extra rest. I washed my dog making sure to give extra attention to the paws, and taking care not to be so vigorous as to make Max's customary snarl turn into a snap. Mission accomplished. Vacuuming is no easy chore. There are so many chairs precisely in the rooms that are never used, and doing one's best requires moving each chair (they are heavy) to dust bust the territory underneath without muttering profanities under one's breath. Then came mopping. It's hot and mopping makes me sweat and fills me with malaise. I always consider the futility of life as I scrub the terrazzo clean. I abhor filling the steam machine with water more than once, but always have to because it gets so dirty. But I maintained composure, and managed to make the floor streak-free.

Later I met a man at Whole Foods who liked my book on nutrition and wanted to get together to discuss a business opportunity. But we never hit on the subject, because as we were exchanging intros a stranger interrupted our conversation and proceeded to discourse at length about his view of proper eating. I'll never get that hour of my life back. I could have interrupted the 65-year-old from Algeria, cut him off, said mind your own business. But the love all serve all philosophy I try to abide by, the very philosophy that led me to the Whole Foods meeting in the first place, required me to nod and smile as the man spoke of his love of chocolate and cheese. Get 'em next time. 

Now, grocery shopping is something I truly love, have ever since my mother used to take me and my bros to Westward Ho after school when we were kids. And earning my equivalent of Olympic gold requires choosing the freshest produce, and making sure not to bruise the avocados or bananas. No easy task. It means bringing my own bags (to save trees and pennies). It also means selecting a fresh cut of fish, and being especially friendly to the butcher, who literally holds my health in his hands. I just hope he washed them before leaving the restroom. I also chat up the cashier and help the bagger. Norm was friendly and after I had paid he even shook my hand. He must have liked our witty repartee, because he even ran after me to deliver an empty bag I had left behind. The fact that I was at Ralphs and the bag was from Pavilions didn't seem to bother Norm. Chalk it up to bonhomie. That or he isn't a shareholder at his place of employ. 

Watering plants requires the skill of a shot putter. But here distance is not what counts. It is delicacy so as not to overfill or splash the counter. The orchids that grace the house are beautiful, and jade needs love too. Lifting weights is easy with memories of 500-plus lb deadlifts still fresh in my memory. So I made like a Russian (or a Chinese) and heaved 65 lbs over my head in a dumbbell version of the celebrated snatch. I'm out of breath just remembering this.

And I'm no Michael Phelps, but I like to swim a mile each day, although the race is against myself. When it's you against you, there are no losers, is my motto. Maybe I'll make it into a bumper sticker. Do people still wear them?

So as not to snarl overmuch, Max needs a couple walks a day and at least 10 minutes of cuddling in the morning. That should be the new Olympic event. Not ax throwing, as I just read. But cuddling. I'd win first prize. Because I'm a world-class cuddler. But this takes two, and Max can only take so much love, so I'm still looking for my teammate in this most underappreciated endeavor. Ooops did I just write that?

I make a gold medal-worthy collard green dish, which is my upcoming Olympic event, my next hurdle, pardon the pun. That will be this evening, when I am entertaining my high school best friend Jason Goldberg. Jason is coming over with his young son Cooper, who when he heard of the visit insisted to bring his baseball equipment along, to show me his six-yearl old stroke. Jason told me how much this means to "the Coop," my appreciation (or any adult's, for that matter). And so we'll play a little catch like his daddy and I used to back in the day. Now if I can get Coop to eat my collard green dish I will really deserve my prize!


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