I know. You think I got that saying in the headline wrong. The traditional statement is to sigh and lament, “Well, you know. The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Well I say, fuck that.
We’re all familiar with how fashions change in men’s ties. For a while they’ll be real fat and gaudy. Then they slim down and go all conservative and trim. Then they expand to medium sized with all these gaudy colors and for all we know, there are abstract images of penguins fucking seals in the patterns. But you’d never know it unless you ask the actual designers, who are likely laughing behind your back and snickering into their sleeves as they snigger and chortle, “PENGUINS FUCKING SEALS! THEY’LL BUY ANYTHING!”
Or MAYBE it’s other way around. Maybe it’s seals fucking penguins. We have evidence of that at least. Those fashion designers are so environmentally sensitive, you know.
I’ve likely had ties with that type of pattern on them. I’ve also had ties in all kinds of widths and lengths and knots. But there’s hardly any demand to wear ties any more. So for the most part, my tie collection sits in a closet undisturbed until some slightly formal occasion comes along requiring one of fifty or so ties to be hauled out of it’s bin like a snake from a wicker basket. Be careful, they might bite.
Then there’s the tasks of shining my shoes. That’s something I still like to do now and then because I believe that shoes should not be left to look like two hardened shells of wrinkly cow shit. Women with taste notice these sorts of things. If your shoes look like shit, they’ll think you look like shit too.
As noted in yesterday’s blog, I recently restored a bike to riding condition that I’d crunched by driving into my garage with the bike on the roof rack. It’s been an expensive wall ornament for a few years.
But now it’s back. It cost me some money to fix it up, because everything to do with cycling costs money. Yet it’s often worth it to go back in time and bring something back to life that you once loved them and could love again. The more things stay the same, the more they change.
That’s one of the ways that we all keep things from going stale. Whether it’s going back in time or picking up the pieces somehow and moving on, the sameness may be familiar but it’s also a foundation for change.
More than one endurance athlete has hit a plateau or a stale period in their life where nothing feels new. Sometimes they try to re-invent themselves. But others go back to what worked for them in the first place. They might re-unite with a former coach, or go training on some favorite trails or roads.
In some sports, it’s far more difficult to use the same to create the change. I’ve seen former swimmers stand by the pool and nothing about getting back in the water feels like fun to them. When you’ve trained thousands of meters in the pool at all times of the day, it’s hard to find something new about any of it. That’s certainly understandable. Yet there’s still a shred of hope…
Fortunately open water swimming does offer an opportunity to do something a little different than swimming multiple laps in the pool. No walls for flip turns for one thing. I’m still gaining confidence about open water swimming but the first time I did it a few years ago the experience was revelatory. Grant you, I had a wetsuit on so my attitude was bolstered. Whatever works. But it was fun. Liberating.
Now I’m trying to build strength so that I can honestly engage with the water in any circumstance and at almost any distance. Hopefully I’ll grow in efficiency so that swimming a mile or more without a wetsuit is well within my province. To do that will require plenty of laps in the indoor pool. That’s all necessary to get the type of freedom one seeks in the outdoor environment. To seek change, sometimes we have to labor through the sameness. True in workouts. True in life. Just like the lyrics of John Lennon’s song Revolution:
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
It’s also true on the bike and running as well. We ride indoors on the bike all winter (so much of the same…) to build fitness for those harsh March days when the temps get above forty and it’s time to prepare for the big wide world with real hills and wind and weather.
Some take to the running treadmill as well. It’s hard some days to take the sameness of these routines. But that’s the point here: The more things stay the same, the more they change us for the better when it matters.