Running From My Despair

Okay I’m not messing around here, this is not going to be a fun post. I’ve written it in my head fifteen times and can’t get to a conclusion that seems worth making my way to. So I decided to just let my fingers do some work and see what comes out.

I know there are themes that seem important to put out there. One theme is in regards to meaning. What does it mean to participate in and write about fitness, especially fitness from a feminist perspective in an time of profound crisis and dis-empowerment regarding vital other feminist oriented issues?

I’ll tell you how I picked up on that theme. I was working with my trainer. You know, my private Pilates trainer that I pay $50 CAD every week to make me do 10-15 more roll-ups or scissor kicks than I might do on my own in my basement for free. Two white women in a suburban gym doing squat reps and talking idly about how horrible everything is. I mean, WHAT EVEN IS THAT? I left that session and I felt terrible about myself. I should have donated that money to BLM or Doctors Without Borders or the ACLU.

There is another element to this theme of meaning. I am a middle aged woman who isn’t bad looking, but Trump would probably put me at a 5-6. I’m not worth considering. I am not hot enough to count in that world he represents and as much as it pains me to admit this, I feel less worthy somewhere because of the ascendance of that attitude toward women.

The next theme is about safety. For the first time in my life I have serious doubts about the actual safety of my life, and when I say my life, I mean the style of my life and the choices I have made in my life. Unlike young men of colour or transwomen or aboriginal women, I do not mean my actual flesh, not yet.

The toxic nationalism and angry xenophobic turn of my southward neighbour and shaken me to the core. I know it lives here too. First we had Rob Ford, now we are looking Kelly Leitch smack in the face. People say she can’t win on that platform, but why not? And then there is the shooting in a mosque in Quebec by yet another angry white dude, the ugly terminus of years of fear mongering and islamaphobia in the public discourse of our media and politics. 

I am Jewish. My upbringing included vivid descriptions of the Holocaust (you know, that thing Hitler did to Jews, Gays, Catholics, Communists, Poles and Roma). I grew up with the phrase “never again” echoing always. And now, I wonder about whether I have the courage and fortitude to stand up to a police state. I’m queer and non-monogamous and sex positive. I support a woman’s right to choose. I’m cool with affirmative action. I don’t mind paying my taxes if it means we have better public transit and a social safety net. I think black/indigenous/POC lives matter. I think Islam is a religion of peace and we should take in refugees. There, I said it and the internet remembers.When they come to my door, will I shame myself and deny these things?

The next theme is despair. My struggle to feel meaningful and my fear for my future safety have had the expected effect of pushing a good portion of me over the edge into hopeless despair. I just can’t believe we are here. It’s not what I thought people would move toward. I was wrong. I failed to see they were already in fear and despair. I failed to see that the paucity of culture and the ascendance of materialism was breeding angry despairing people with a lack of meaning who will turn on the other in a heartbeat. I missed it because I’m established, educated, white and liberal.

So what does this have to do with fitness? I’ve done a lot of running. Mostly, it’s small distances although I’m committed to two half-marathons this year so I’d better get in gear. I find myself longing to run a lot, even when I can’t fit it in. In fact, I gave up a run to write this blog, but the blog seemed more important. I don’t solve anything when I run. I do feel marginally better and more able to function in spite of the reality of the world. I know that if I give up and roll over, that’s one less melted liberal snowflake who will not show up for any necessary blizzards. I have no blessed idea what to actually do about any of it. I have, in fact, donated to BLM and Doctors Without Borders. I am staying vigilant about the politics of the country I can participate in. I’m tweeting at Justin to stand up to the bully as best he can. I’m writing letters to my Conservative MP asking her to stand up to the forces of xenophobia in her own party. I’m being an angry peri-menopausal mess of a woman and still letting people love me. So that’s something. I need new shoes though, there is a storm coming and many miles to run before it’s done.

A storm named Alex. Who knows what damage he will cause.

PS: My daughter just sent me this Beyonce meme.. .so clearly, all is not lost.

If you don’t get this Buffy reference, we can’t be friends. . 
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