I didn’t even know NHL teams had play-by-play dudes (probably because I know nothing about hockey). Turns out they do, they’re intense, and they have stories to tell. Ralph Strangis brings his below, and we’re grateful.
I’m 54 years old, but I still describe myself as a seeker. I do life differently than I used to. I endeavor to have body and mind present for everything I’m doing as I’m doing it.
I’ve made significant life changes over the last 15 years. Most recently, I left a job few ever get the chance to have – and almost nobody walks away from. I’m learning to do life a new way.
It’s been quite a journey – to get here from there. Reminds me of the Buddhist expression – “the best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago… the second best day is today.” So – we all gotta start someplace, and the tree grows slowly.
To paraphrase Thoreau – I want to wake up every day with joy and excitement – go to bed every night with joy – and experience the day for what it is – acknowledging each small moment as I’m in it. To me – there’s nothing else. I don’t always get it right – but every day I try.
I’ve slowed down, not aiming solely at the end result. It’s not easy, but I have to do it. I recognize that when my attention is on the outcome, I miss the moment. I’m finding that by doing things almost exactly the opposite of everything I was told and taught, and against the conventional approaches for which I received great accolades, I’m happier, healthier, and better.
You see, we’re so goal oriented, relentlessly hammered by the world to meet the deadlines, hit the quotas and arrive on time, that we don’t enjoy or even recognize the process when we’re in it. Too few bosses and teachers direct us to take joy in the tasks – they’re almost exclusively interested in the final product.
We’re not blameless either, as we pile on the added distraction of multi tasking, allowing our senses to be bombarded with external stimuli from sources human and technological. We bounce from this to that.
We’re taught to acquire more and measured by what we have. I’m focusing on who I am now. I exercise. Every day now, I do something athletic. My definition for athletic, by the way, is simple: MOVE.
I haven’t always. I found the gym only when I had to. A near catastrophic car wreck in 2001 left me with a broken back and a long recovery. I made my first ever visit to a physical therapist in jeans and a sweatshirt. I probably wore loafers. I know I had a cigarette before and after and probably got my lunch through a fast food window and sucked it down in my car as I flew to the next thing on my to-do list.
It’s helped me over the years to keep things simple and manageable. MOVE – I get. 14 years ago – it meant 10 minutes on the treadmill and 5 minutes lifting weights twice a week. Pace and speed, even today, don’t interest me. When I’m feeling good I go faster. Time has increased, so has frequency, so has pace.
When I started way back when – I’d lay my clothes out the night before. Just putting them on first thing in the morning meant I was on my way. I still do that. When I’m traveling, I put my gym clothes within sight at all times. Sometimes, I’ll just put them on and stretch and do pushups and running in place in my room.
Now – I enjoy cycling, boxing, trotting (a mixture of fast walking, jogging and all out sprinting) and weight lifting. Every day I MOVE.
And when I’m exercising – I exercise. Body and mind are both there. I listen to music to keep a good beat in my head – but I won’t watch television. I can hardly believe that in these precious moments people feed their heads with horrific images from TV news.
In my apartment gym, there’s a big window in front of a waterfall. That’s my spot. There are two television sets in the room, both within view. If I’m alone in the room, I turn them both off and (don’t tell anyone) hide the remote! And the gym, or the bike, is NO PLACE FOR A CELLPHONE!
I’ve worked to notice my body and mind during exercise. I think about how fortunate I am that everything still (mostly…) works. I feel my legs as I run, I focus on my biceps when I do curls, and if my mind drifts to other things, I steer back to noticing something else about what I’m doing.
When I’m done, I allow myself to sit for a moment or two, taking in how I’m feeling. I am always reminded during these times how good it feels to have MOVED.
I eat consciously – more slowly than I used to. I’m not perfect with what I eat – life’s too short for me to not have a cheeseburger every now and then – but when I cheat, I cheat with intent.
And I quit smoking. I didn’t start out with the goal to quit smoking, but as I started feeling better, and noticed that smoking made me feel worse, I stopped one day.
There is no target weight, although perpetually I think I need to lose 10 pounds. But if my clothes fit me, and I feel good and energetic – then I’m there. I think about running half marathons or even boxing an opponent – but those things don’t consume me. If those things become available and I’m in the right place physically, I’ll do them.
I am going in September on a cycling trip through France’s Burgundy region. I’m preparing for this by cycling once or twice a week while continuing my other exercising.
I feel – good. Some weeks – it isn’t possible to do as much as I want – but I do what I can. I still MOVE every day.
And when I move – I move with purpose and allow myself to experience the joy of the process. Even when it’s hard, even when I hurt. There’s joy in that for me. Because I think back to what got me started on all this in the first place. That car accident almost put me in a place where I wouldn’t be able to MOVE. And I’m so thankful for this second chance that I want to make the most of every minute of it.
Ralph Strangis just retired after a 25-year career as the “Voice of the Dallas Stars.” He’s a writer, actor, broadcaster and corporate motivational speaker. You can find out more at www.ralphstrangis.com and follow him on Twitter @RalphStrangis.