Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rethinking Work

In the Old World paradigm, “work” is this concept of physically moving something, defined, observed and measured as external change produced in the physical world outside the body, as for example, lifting a weight a certain distance in a certain time. It could also be moving our bodies a certain distance in a certain time. Those measures are a function of gravity -- and thus fail when developing a prototype for exercise that would be useful on a prolonged space flight in weightlessness. Astronauts have virtually no way of keeping “fit” using the old exercise paradigm because it is based on a world of gravity and thus, resistance.

The secret is, it doesn’t work very well under normal earth conditions either, but your personal trainer won’t tell you that. They’ll insist you have to try harder and be more dedicated -- and some time in a distant future, a miracle will happen, and all that one wished and hoped for will come true. That such changes can be verified presently, are never considered. Essential to the old paradigm of exercise is that change is a function of extended time, rather than can be effected immediately. Because of that manner of thinking over such extended, ill-defined periods, the individual is not fully focused on the urgency of that present moment -- as being the moment of supreme importance, but thinks some vague future one is more important, more real, and thus the power of his own action in the present one is lost. What is reinforced is the notion that change is not a function of one’s deliberate and purposeful actions but is diffused into the vagueness of time, energy, space, circumstances beyond our immediate control, randomness.

Such thinking is not only unique to exercise activities but is also the cultural infrastructure in which we are used to thinking about everything -- in the last century. Education is also this slow process of time rather than the instantaneous “Aha” moment -- when a person has truly discovered something they did not realize before. Upon such moments, the world is transformed -- and nothing will seem and be the same -- for that individual. Such change, changes the world in the only way the world has ever been changed -- in the power to change oneself. Ineffectual people, however, will convince us that the only way the world can ever change is for us to first change everybody else -- which of course, ensures that no change will ever take place, ensuring the status quo.

It really doesn’t matter how much weight we can lift -- or how far we can run, in optimizing health, function and form. What does matter is how effective we are about moving the nutrients into the body and waste products out of it, which produces the internal operating environment for which we will do all those things more readily visible in the external environment. But it is what’s going on inside -- how the blood, fluid and gas, nerve impulses, molecules are moving around inside which we hope to infer through the old primitive standards of measurement. They might not mean anything significant at all -- but they are certainly convenient and the easiest things to measure.

It’s not the work external to the body that is important -- as much as it is the work going on inside the body, in the tissues and cells, the understanding and thought that organizes the body. That is the essential work of being human, being fit, being all one can be.


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