Saturday, January 12, 2013

Janathon 2013 Day 12 - Weights, freedom and wine

Gym - run 3.2 km + weights, Time - 1h 5m, Weather - definitely getting colder

The weather is cold and raw but that is not the reason I am back in the gym. I am there because I want to continue my programme of strengthening exercises and use the weight machines. Now I know that the consensus is that machines are not as good as free weights but I find them easier to use - because I don't have to think too much about what I am supposed to be doing. In their small way they offer a parable about freedom and choice. Free weights offer unlimited opportunities to exercise specific muscle groups and choose the exact weight you need, whilst machines limit your range of motion and exercise specific muscle groups only. However to best exercise your freedom you need to know what you are doing and have a routine worked out, in other words a certain amount of expertise, whereas I don't want to think about it too much. I just want to work-out the bigger muscle groups without worrying. All I want is something I can do quickly and efficiently. Choice is a good thing but it is not always the ultimate good. The guys in the corner, sculpting their bodies, need their free weights. I do not.

To finnish this little piece I had thought of finding a Stoic quote about the limiting ones freedom and how less can sometimes be more, but I came upon something a little unexpected: a passage that shows that Stoicism is not about self abnegation and continual control. The aim is to be able to live a good life, not being an ascetic. Although it mentions that freedom is best in moderation it is mainly about sometimes letting go, or more specifically enjoying wine.
"We must humour our minds and grant them rest from time to time, which acts upon them like food, and restores their strength … at times we ought to drink even to intoxication, not so as to drown, but merely to dip ourselves in wine: for wine washes away troubles and dislodges them from the depths of the mind, and acts as a remedy to sorrow as it does to some diseases. The inventor of wine is called Liber, not from the licence which he gives to our tongues but because he liberates our minds from the bondage of cares … Yet moderation is wholesome both in freedom and in wine." (Seneca, On Peace of Mind, ch xvii)
It is Saturday and I think that gives me a good steer as to what I should do tonight,

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