Today is an interesting day because it marks the start of dual adventures the kind of which people rarely seem to go on anymore. Jen and I are both departing for international travel, separately.
For her part Jen is going to Italy for five weeks. The first response most people have had to this is “What for?” or “Why?” Which is odd to me because why do you need a reason to go to Italy for five weeks beyond the myriad reasons which should instantly materialize in anyone’s mind who has even a modicum of awareness of the world they live in. It’s almost as if in this modern means-tested productivity-enhanced society it’s impossible to fathom doing something without an explicit purpose.
Alas, ostensibly her purpose is to attend an intensive immersion language school to learn Italian. But really, let’s be honest, she’s doing it because we’ve specifically crafted our lives so that doing this kind of thing is only a plane ticket and a house-and-dog-sitter away so why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?
I’m going the opposite direction and getting on a plane to Manila tomorrow. I say getting on a plane not so much as a figure of speech but because literally the main purpose of this trip is because I wanted to fly on one of the last U.S.-carrier flights on the 747, which Delta happens to be operating to the Philippines.
I’ve always been an aviation buff and ever since I was a little kid lucky enough to fly on Alitalia and KLM (“Royal Dutch Airlines” in TV commercial announcer voice) routes on the iconic jumbo jet I’ve revered the 747. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Air Force One is a 747 despite the fact that surely many other platforms would have done the job, some maybe better.
It’s hard to describe the significance of the 747. You could talk about how iconic the design is, a jet that stands out in skies full of planes that to the untrained observer all look the same. How many people could even tell you how many engines the plane they just stepped off of had? But even little kids know the distinctive upper-deck hump of the 747. It’s the Flatiron Building of jumbo jets.
You could talk about the era that the leviathan seemed to be ushering in when it first took to the sky in 1969. Sure the height of the cold war was still fresh and the thought of intercontinental ballistic missiles crossing the continents was still very much at the forefront of people’s minds, but the economies of scale that the big jet brought about opened the possibility of a world where business, prosperity, and peace would be more likely to cross those skies. Maybe it’s fitting that the era of the 747 is in its twilight after all.
You could talk about its massive proportions and literally over-the-top luxury (the upper deck is a first-class affair) match American’s typical exceptionalism and desire for bigger, faster, more. But I’ve probably talked enough about an airplane for a fitness guy.
My point is that I don’t need any reason to fly to Manila other than my love of airplanes and desire to take one last ride on one. The bonus is that I’ve created a life where not only can I do so, but I can teach a biofeedback workshop while I’m there which covers my expenses.
You can do this too. The world has changed in the past several decades and on the downside there is no longer much of a sense of loyalty, community, or responsibility from corporations and to government to ensure that people have a good life. The upside to this is that there is very likely the opportunity and possibility for you to manufacture exactly the life you want, if you take the reigns and opt out of the now defunct path that has been paved for you. Go to school, get good grades, go to college, get a job, take one vacation per year, retire with a pension doesn’t work anymore – those days are gone. (This is where I acknowledge varying degrees of privilege. If you’re reading this I’m going to wager that you have a level of privilege sufficient to more or less chart your own course. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.)
The thing that it takes is a willingness to be unconventional and uncomfortable. To step off the beaten path and figure out how you’re going to take that knowledge, expertise, skill, and creativity that is locked up in your brain and turn it into value. Sell something you make. Consult. Teach something you’re great at to people who want to learn it. Solve a problem you see.
How does this relate to fitness? To me everything you want to do starts with the physical. There is something about transformative about knowing you’re going to do something hard every day, doing it, and then looking back on how you just did it. Physical movement and transformation begets other movement and transformation. It’s all connected.
So, I’m off to pack a bag. Wish us luck.