New Year’s Memo Written to Myself

New Year’s Memo Written to Myself

Having practiced law on Wall Street for almost 40 years, I long ago abandoned most ways of evaluating my life, until today.

I swim and use the Jacuzzi at the health club about three times a week. Not without effort, but my weight, while an issue, is not a problem.

My workouts, I now realize, were right out of an efficiency expert’s playbook. I would allocate an hour, plus 15 minutes flexibility due to a crowded pool or other contingency. That meant 15 minutes Jacuzzi, 30 minutes swim, then hit the Jacuzzi for 5 minutes max.

As I floated in the whirlpool, my legs rising to the surface with the help of the jets, I found a couple of nozzles I could bring into focus on the frozen shoulder, surgical knee, and tight lower back that comes with age and less than ideal physical exercise and diet. I went along my spine and then around each shoulder.

The idea became clear. I could take all the time I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do, and it wouldn’t matter in the least.

So, I did. All time allocations were abandoned, and I traced the path of tightness or soreness, or not quite free and flexible areas of my body. This took about 45 minutes — thank goodness the water wasn’t terribly hot. It was twice as long as ever before. Just by pushing an adjust button in my brain that I hadn’t previously known existed. To do a thorough, leisurely and in some cases repetitive version of this, putting time entirely aside, produced amazing results.

I started feeling more relaxed, more flexible and less pressured. I even learned that when you stretch as hard as you can, and are getting no looser, the energy you just transferred to your jaw, neck, knee, or ankle needs to be released.

It turns out to be burned off or relieved by that part of your anatomy, which transforms latent energy into an audible click or pop that completes the stretch thus releasing the rigidity that lies at the heart of your problem (as well as all human folly, excess and especially overachieving). It was an entirely different way of connecting me with myself and helped me function as an integrated person entirely with myself, rather than a use or measurement of time that had no meaning for me anymore.

I can honestly say it was transformative. I once heard that the hardest thing about change is not change itself, but resistance. See if that isn’t true.

Mike Parish lives in Alameda.