Transience and My Hobbies

I lift weights. That’s not facetious, I mean I go a gym and I lift up precisely weighted and shaped lumps of metal called dumbbells. As a result I am very strong, for my weight class (under-80 kg; under 176 lbs). I am not strong in any absolute terms, or even on the human scale of strength. I was sat in the gym recently exhausted and I had a strange thought: I don’t know why I do this. All I was ever going to achieve, at my absolute best, was the right to keep up whatever I have achieved indefinitely. I cannot hope to squat 180 kg (396 lbs—it is satisfying writing what I can lift in pounds…) when I am 60, nor bench press 110 kg (242 lbs). I don’t imagine my abs will survive learning to drive (as I now cycle everywhere) or the time constraints of if I ever enter the real world.

Fitness, which is what I am working towards, is transient. So is the superficial side of it. As I age my muscle tone will go down, my joins will wear and everything I have earned in terms of fitness and looking pretty damned good will slip away.

This thought made me think I should take up a really hobby. The ones that interest me are surfing, mountain biking, basketball, rugby and SCUBA diving. But then I realised that these are even more transient that my weight lifting. After you’ve finished weight lifting the strength you have earned and the muscles you have grown stay with you. You keep that for a long time. All the other activities I mentioned, you finished them and go home and when you do the activities are as good as gone, for now.

I evaluated that claim, and I remembered that SCUBA diving was an immensely relaxing activity. That relaxation stayed with me for days. It was also a humbling experience to swim with sharks and watch a cuttlefish. That is a memory I still treasure today. The buzz from mountain biking (and from boxing) lasts for hours. Even though I am bad at mountain biking, it was exciting to do and I was exciting about having tried it for the rest of the day.

As I thought, the importance of transience became, well, transient. It didn’t matter. Being fit now wasn’t about still being fit in 30 years’ time. It is about enjoying the fitness and looking good now; it is about enjoying the challenges I set myself, now. And the same is true of the other activities (all of which I hope to slowly take up) are fun in the moment. Anyone who dismisses the value of something because it is transient has ignored the value of the moment; of the now.

An eclipse or a shooting star is beautiful precisely because it is fleeting. It is a moment, an experience, and then it is gone. Transience is beautiful. Permanence, that’s stagnant and terrifying.

9 thoughts on “Transience and My Hobbies”

    1. You’re an Aussie. I demand you take up either SCUBA diving or surfing, immediately. You should conform to my preconceptions of you.

      1. Would it help at all to know i’m sitting in here in blue stubbies, a white singlet and a hat with corks dangling from its brim? Oh, and my wombat, Fatso, is under my desk drinking a Fosters and singing Collingwood songs.

      2. I am very happy to hear it. When you suggested you weren’t an immediate stereotype I nearly dropped my monocle and split my tea all over cravat and tweed jacket.
        Although, I recommend getting Fatso onto some Castlemaine XXXX; it’s less platypus urine-y.

  1. I do fencing and sailing. The good thing about these is, that no matter how old I get, I also get better at them all the time. As I grow old my reflexes grow slower, and my muscle mass will enivitably deteriorate, but at the same time my experience grows. My growing skills, perception and intuition will more than compansate my lost muscles and slowed reflexes more than adequately. At least, if I do not become seriously ill.

    (And to conform to anyones preconceptions, I dunno what to do. What are the preconceptions about a Finn? I have a nasty suspicion about what the Swedes, the Russians and the Estonians think about us, but hardly anyone else has even ever heard of us…)

    1. I went to Finland and I found everyone to be very nice and polite (a hotel receptionist posted something we left in our room to the address we provided when we signed in, that’s just amazing). But I also found the Finns don’t smile a lot (is smiling perhaps considered a bit intimate is Finland?)

      But in terms of general preconceptions and stereotypes, I don’t know either.

      1. Ahha, we have a winner stereotype, that fits us Finns on the spot! Something all our neighbouring nations could agree about the Finns. We are broody.

        I just heard a Finnish businessman and a self proclaimed “philosopher” moan on the radio how the Finns are ungratefull bastards for not being happy about the fact that we have it a lot better than most other folks in the world. He had never understood the simple reason for us having so many things so well. It is because we are broody. We do not accept shitty conditions and just be happy about what we have. We strive ever for better, and we will never be satisfied what we allready have.

        And I guess, smiling is seen as bit of an intimate message. We do also have this proverb, that even the runny-nose-kid grows to be a man, but the one who laughs for no reason shall never. Finns are very particular about honesty, and even if someone is smiling just to be polite, it is seen as fake or a as a pretention. Being taken as a fake is just about the worst that could happen to a Finn. (The value of honesty, is probably why you got what you had left in the hotel.) I do not mean other nations are more dishonest, but our culture has remained as very small communities up to so lately, that if one disregards the others, one will be labelled as a dishonest person very soon, and in a small community, it is very hard to hide from a bad name.

        But I am of Carelian (an eastern Finnish tribe) ancestry and laugh and smile a lot (for a Finn). So I do not fit the stereotype so well…

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