Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Surfacing, For a Moment / Beach Moment

I know I've been scarce in these here parts since last month, and to my steadfast regulars (both of you) I apologize. As I've mentioned in previous posts, September/October has been a real grind for me work-wise, as it is the peak of the Fall trade show season. I've completed 3 of the 4 trade shows I was responsible for planning and attending, and they've all gone splendidly. But the amount of logistics, planning, time, and effort that goes into these things is truly mind-boggling.

Following a full week in Las Vegas last month I've spent more time in Florida (first Orlando, then Marco Island) in the past month than I have in Texas, which has not been much fun. Vacation-oriented destinations just aren't nearly as enjoyable when you're there working 14+ hour days. Not to say fun hasn't been had, just that it is always accompanied by the constant thoughts of "this would be so much more fun if Christine and/or the kids were here with me." Luckily I have at least been joined at these destinations by good friends with whom I work well. We're a good team, and they are all great traveling companions.

So, just one more trade show to go -- this one is just up the road Dallas so no flying is involved, which will be something of a treat. In the best of circumstances I find air travel to be something of a chore, so getting the chance to just hop in the car and turn up the stereo for a few hours will be a welcome relief.

One moment to share, though, in regard to training. While in Marco Island (again, not the worst place in the world to work one's ass off -- here's a link to the hotel I stayed in) I, as usual, could not sleep. When I travel I tend to have no trouble falling asleep (usually with the help of a nightcap or two after work with friends) but staying asleep is a challenge. When I'm in Vegas I'm usually up by 4:00 thanks to the time zone differences, while in Marco I was typically awake no later than 5:00 simply because I wasn't at home in my own bed.

So, given that I was awake, as the beach was just a minute's walk away, I got dressed in some workout wear and headed down to do some forms. Aside from the occasional flock of sea birds the beach was completely deserted, the sun still well below the horizon behind me and the moon low in the sky over the water, silver lights glittering on the gentle gulf surf. So, facing the moon and water I first stretched for about 10 minutes, then did some meditative breathing exercises we've learned in class, and finally went through every one of my forms, beginning with the Kicho forms and stopping for a brief breather after every third form -- just as we'd done when I tested for Il Gup a few months back.

Working out on sand is very difficult -- particularly, I find, when doing forms. The uneven, unsteady surface plays havoc with your balance, forcing you to maintain far more rigidity in order to maintain stances, making relaxation far more difficult and, as a result, really wearing you out. I was drenched with sweat by the time I'd gotten halfway through the Pyong Ahn forms, gasping for air when I reached Bassai, and could barely stand after I completed the never-ending horsestances of Naihanchi Cho Dan. And as I worked my way through my forms the sun rose behind me, bathing the sky in a soft blue glow as the moon slowly sank toward the water. By now there were a few early-risers strolling along the water, often giving me a curious glance and a wide berth.

When my workout was finished my friend Dean and I went took casual stroll along the beach, just to get the day started (for him) and to cool down after the workout (for me). As we walked, we saw dolphins cresting periodically along the shore, less than 25 feet away, having an early-morning snack of fish. We never did see them again the rest of the trip, much as I'd have liked to.

But I wondered why they happened along that particular morning. I like to think they were swimming along, gliding effortlessly through the waves, minding their own dolphin-y business, when they chose to be entertained/amused by some big somewhat less-than-graceful human up there on the beach that day, stomping around in the sand and yelling every now and then. Lord knows there were a few beachcombers who found me a curious sight: perhaps the dolphins did as well.

Mood: Amused
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