Remembering Old Glories

It is tempting to remember all the great things we used to be able to do. While it is advisable to gain inspiration from the greatness of our past, we should not live in it.

Since primary school up until secondary school, I used to ride my bike to school every single day. It wasn’t a fancy bike, like the ones we commonly see today, but it can get the job done. 8km per day bike ride was a piece of cake for my primary school self. I can still play soccer later that day.

I was not special. Most kids back in my day were fit as a fiddle. We played outside.

I still think back on those days every now and then, to remember what it was like. Sometimes I think that I am still as fit as I was, even though the current evidence suggests otherwise.

I am living in my past, as opposed to taking inspiration from it. Even in my delusion, somewhere in the back of my mind I know that I was not in my best physical shape. Sometime from my university years until today, my fitness level slowly deteriorates.

Although I keep on telling my wife that I am hiding my six packs out of “modesty”, I know that I need to do something. I am tempted to say that it was normal for married men to develop a belly after saying “I do”, but in my heart I refused to believe it.

Just because something is the norm, it doesn’t make it normal. I feel like I am doing a type of injustice towards the institution of marriage by saying that marriage makes me put on weight, and I nonchalantly justify that claim by saying that the increase in weight equates to the increase in “happiness”.

Delusion upon delusion.

We often like to blame the external for what is clearly an internal problem. We say it is because of marriage, when in fact it is because of our own laziness. Everybody hates to be called lazy. Fewer admit it. Fewer more have the decency to actually do something about it.

We avoid facing the hard truth that is against us. That was the case with me. My physical health is slowly deteriorating due to lack of exercise, but in my head I still think that I can do physical activities like I was 10.

The past memory of my active self cushions the blow of the current reality of my sedentary lifestyle. Not only do I remember my old glories, I actually live in them. It is difficult for my ego to face my current reality because, well, it hurts. We don’t like it when our ego is being hurt.

But sometimes you have to smack some sense into the ego.

In the effort to rip the delusion and stay grounded in reality, I bought a new bicycle today. I decided to ride the bike from the store where I bought the bike, all the way to my house. In total, it was about 10km, more or less.

So I thought, “This is a piece of cake. I’ve done better.”

No cake was seen. It was difficult.

I soon realized how out of shape I was due to the fact that I was panting within 5 minutes of riding the bike. But I was committed to prove to myself that I need to snap out of the delusion. At the same time, I wanted to prove to myself that I can do it.

40 minutes later, I was home. Exhausted.

Lets be honest. Very few of us like to exercise and I am not among the very few. However, all of us know for a fact that we need to exercise. It is not something some people do as a hobby. It is a necessity to keep the physical body healthy.

So like it or not, that is out of the question. We all need to exercise.

I pushed myself to do it. Although I don’t like the process, but I enjoy the outcome. There is a saying in the Malay language that goes, “Bersusah-susah dahulu, bersenang-senang kemudian.” It roughly translates to “face hardships first, enjoy ease later”.

It is about time that we break the delusion of our past glories. Yes, you did great things in the past. But they are all in the past. Our past doesn’t do much to determine our future. It is all in the present. We all need to stop galavanting in the memory of past glories, and start working on improving our present self.

Perhaps you were physically fit, perhaps you were a straight-A student, perhaps you were a tidy person, perhaps you were a great leader, or perhaps you were a loving husband. That is all great and dandy.

But the real question to ponder upon is…who are you now?