Weekend Reading
September 10, 2023

I’ve been thinking about getting back to things.

We read so much about starting something new. And while it’s a brave, character-building experience to step into the unknown, there’s something equally courageous about returning to something that we’ve become separated from.

I don’t go to a gym, run, jog, or cycle. Because I live in a walkable neighborhood and city, I do walk a fair bit on my way from one place to another. Yet my walking becomes considerably less when it’s cold outside.

This past January, when it was really cold, I decided to start walking on one of the treadmills in the gym in my apartment building.

I didn’t plan on anything crazy—just 15-30 minutes a few times each week, while the weather was rotten. I figured I wouldn’t hate it too much if I listened to some music or read on a tablet.

More importantly, I knew that it was the right thing to do, given my age and overall activity level. Weight-bearing exercise matters, especially for bone health, and I’m not being hard on myself when I say that I could stand to do more of it.

Even this modest goal turned out to be humbling.

I don’t love being active, even if it’s good for me. Thanks to its social and spiritual dimensions, yoga has always been an exception, and I’m glad for that.

But it’s not easy for me to make a habit of other movement, and my effort to walk more in the winter was no exception.

Having not used a gym in years, I didn’t own proper sneakers. I had to go out and get some, which was itself a little overwhelming—so many types and choices!

There was also the fact of my slowness and overall reluctance. Invariably, when I got onto a treadmill with my Kindle, there would be a twenty-something on the treadmill next to me, running six minute miles.

I stuck it out anyway. In the end, those short walks became a good little habit.

It was nice to stretch my legs in the morning during the cold months. It gave me energy. And it’s a routine that was realistic enough for me to sustain over time.

My effort to walk more this winter wasn’t unprecedented. I went to a gym in my twenties often. It had simply been a long time, and it’s not easy to flex muscles that have become inactive, literally or figuratively. You may tell yourself it’ll be easy, because you’ve done it before. But the passage of time changes our relationships to things.

The fact that something was easy in the past is no guarantee of it being effortless now, or tomorrow, or in a year.

Even so, it can be really important to resume old activities or pursuits.

For me, cooking is a good example. I’ve gone through long spells of intense productivity, most notably when I’ve been testing recipes for cookbooks.

Then I burn out for a while. I enter periods of avoiding cooking entirely, living off of things from my freezer.

There’s always some resistance when I start cooking again after a hiatus. Sometimes there’s genuine discombobulation: I struggle to find the fluid, coordinated movements and internal sense of timing that I can tap into when I’m in a good cooking groove.

In the end, though, resuming cooking is the right thing to do. I may grumble about it, but the end result is good. I like homemade food. I have a sense of accomplishment.

As you might have guessed, I’m writing about this topic because I’m trying, very gently and reasonably, to get back into some sort of cadence with my writing. I have a bunch of recipes that I’d like to share with you.

Because I haven’t been publishing recipes regularly, this feels surprisingly daunting—more daunting, probably, than it needs to feel. I’ve been writing blog posts for over a decade, and I know that when I sit down and write my first one in a while, it’ll all start to flow.

Still, there’s that shiver of intimidation. And the self-doubt is actually more poignant because blogging is an activity that already matters to me. If it were something I’d never tried before, the stakes would feel lower.

So, this post is for anyone reading today who’s thinking about or trying to get back to something that matters to them.

Maybe you’re resuming something in your professional life.

Maybe you’re trying to pick up a beloved hobby again.

Maybe you want to rekindle an old friendship or connection.

Maybe you’ve been healing from an injury or illness, and it’s time to move in a way you haven’t moved in a while.

I see you.

It’s tough, I know. It’s humbling. It takes equal parts guts and self-compassion.

But, here we are, staying committed to the things that we love. Isn’t that wonderful?

It’s warm here in New York City, as September usually is. I’ll be wearing those sneakers outside, taking my little walks, putting one foot in front of the other.

And I’m excited to publish something, anything, in the week ahead.

Happy Sunday, friends. Till soon.


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