How to think about exercise by Damon Young
I’m at a little cafe “Tiann’s” in Tiong Bahru doing my weekly marketing in the wet market.
I ordered two lattes, each costing $6.50 pricier than the delicious wanton noodles we had for breakfast. I’m going to nurse this latte.
I want to know. How do you trick your brain into exercising?
Look at this young overachiever at the recent car-free Sunday in the Central Business District.
Ready for Young’s suggestions?
1. Meditative Pace allows development of ideas
Charles Darwin’s strolls in Kent were important in development of ideas. The world’s greatest naturalist was a collector of stones. Not just a love of nature or departing from the maddening crowd. It’s “exercise in reflection – a kind of moving meditation”.
According to Young, exercise encourages innovation and problem-solving. He doesn’t refer you to these studies for you to digest and chew but presents ideas for consumption.
Walking (and jogging), rather than other forms of sports, is at a “more contemplative pace” and allows your senses to interplay with a tactile , vibrant world (as long as you’re not in a gym. But then you can read on your ipad or watch the news as I’m prone to do.)
This allows for a mood for creativity. If you’re walking on the streets of city life, try doing so without headphones, cautioned Young to prevent pedestrian deaths.
Loosen your mind and give it interesting things to contemplate in this state.
2. Vigorous sports promotes a sense of self
In recounting Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey, Young presents that in addition to toning muscles and increasing the heart’s efficency, exercise and competitions offers a firmer idea of “self” associated with bodily effort. Giving us someone to beat and offering us a comparison “self against others”.
Even if you’re an onlooker, we feel the pleasure in our success. (I guess for the team you’re rooting for. Is that the reason why so many people watch football? Not just for betting.)
Unlike Greek gods, we humans have a short life span. “The gods may feel no sorrow, but as should be accounted happy and worthy of song if boldness and power have gained him the greatest prize for the might of hand and foot.”
Pride in exercise. Not just fitness but a keen sense of our responsibility. We cannot wait for God to give us our souls – the self is something we must continually and consciously create.
(Forget for a moment that the existentialist author Albert Camus comited suicide). Recounted by Young, Camus once argued that Sisyphus rolling up the boulder to the hill for eternity, was happy because it was his rock. His duty and his task. Only we are the rock. Maybe so. I’ll leave youto nurse your latte over that one.
3. Transforming agony into art. Think “ballet”. Young cites martial arts and ballet that these art forms change the meaning of pain. As the meaning changes, so does the pain itself. For Descartes, the body is basically a machine. It’s not fused with the mind but made of a separate substance.
Pain is purely a mechanical process of stimulation and transmission. The brain’s job as a thinking substance is simply to receive it.
There are 9 other ideas captured in the book. My latte is finished. I encourage you to finish the book and tell me the rest.
I checked out Damon Young’s blog post. He is a philosopher and has written a book on gardening and philosophy. Can’t wait to check it out.