Going into the mural project this week, I estimated that the main 45-foot wall would take three days to complete. That projection was based on prior projects of relatively similar size. Even so, what I did not anticipate is the energy it took to execute this work. Here’s a video of the first portion. I have a few smaller walls to render early next week.
I’m fairly fit right now even in the middle of winter. I recently explained to a middle school gym class where I served as a substitute teacher that my resting heart rate is between 45-50. They had all just taken their own pulse rates that morning. When I asked them what they thought my HR would be, one of them guessed “100”! That’s probably how old they think I am. You know how it is when you’re that age. Anyone with gray hair or a bald head might as well be a thousand years old. Old People are just that: Old.
I’m not that old in terms of relative physical health. My blood pressure is typically 110/78 or so. Sometimes it’s up if I’ve been rushed or stressed going to the doctor’s office, but that’s normal. Our bodies respond to environmental and mental pressures.
Those kids kept guessing my heart rate as I gestured “DOWN” with my thumb as it went from 90 to80 to 70…and 60…then they started getting suspicious. They were all sitting in their assigned spots in the gym and one boy spun around to look at me and said, “Sixty? You’re half dead!”
I said, “Lower!” and gestured again with my thumb.
“Fifty?” one girl quietly asked. I stood still a moment for effect. Then I said, “45. That’s what my heart rate was last night.”
That drew a rolling wave of groans and weird noises from the class. “The lowest it’s ever gotten,” I told them. “Was 38.”
Big eye rolls. I went on to explain. “I’m a runner. And a cyclist. And I swim. So my heart is trained from years of exercise. You can do that too…” That made me stop and think about all the other activity life calls upon us. Walking the dog…in my case, that’s a mile and a half every day. Climbing stairs…my Garmin clocks those trips and gives me a GOAL! when I’ve hit ten per day. And steps…the Garmin also measures that. Usually more than 10,000 a day, far higher when I run.
Who knows if sharing my experience made any sort of positive impression on the kids. I do know that one young girl turned to me and asked, “Are you a sub?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Because our regular teacher is mean,” she informed me. “And you’re nice.” So I guess some sort of impression got through. I guess that’s a message to all the gym teachers out there. Have a heart.
As far as I’m concerned, my little old heart is doing a good job inside my chest. My body also does most of what I ask of it. Granted, I’m about half as fast as I once was as a runner. That’s a natural part of the aging process. None of us stays speedy forever.
That said, I could feel that coming home from the mural project each day resulted in a different kind of “tired.” My wife could see it in me. The effort. The mental concentration. The physicality of climbing up and down ladders, checking my balance and holding the palette on a thumb injured in my bike accident weeks ago. The painting motion itself is a physical task. It all took a bit of measured effort.
Don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t sad that I was tired each. Grateful, more like, that I can still do the things I like to do. Happy that while I’ve banged up my body through years of exertion and athletics it still gets the job done. I collapsed on the couch a bit before dinner, soaking in the satisfying sensation of working hard and having something to show for it. I love that feeling. Live for it. I didn’t run or bike or swim all week. But I didn’t really need to. My wife sensed it too.
What I’m telling you is that while our running, riding, and swimming is important to us, it’s not the only thing that should fulfill us either. Having diverse interests is a different kind of workout, but it is healthy in so many respects.