4+ years in Taiwan, not so long in some ways, but terribly long in others.
I hung out with some friends this evening in a park. We (well, that is, I) drank a little beer, sat on some boulders, looked at the world upside down lying back on the boulders (and wow Taichung looks so much cooler at night upside down, a truly needed change of perspective!), did some rock jumping, got into a really animated discussion of car wrecks and physics, and then I topped it off by climbing a tree. I used to climb trees all the time in middle and high school (Isaac and I once even put safety cone on the tippy top branch of a tree at our high school), but it had been probably 2 or 3 years since I climbed one. My one friend said he'd never climbed a tree before, which stunned me, and then got me thinking about all the trees I myself had climbed, so, as we were walking back to our scooters, I just went for it. And it felt simply great.
Once I was back on the ground, I could feel the muscles tree-climbing used most, and I realized that despite gaining sheer mass and total power over the years, I have lost my supple, unthinking, youthful monkey-power, since my wrists and biceps, and partially my lats and calves, were sizzling. I was sweaty, my forearms were dirty and scraped, and sap was all over my legs, but then again, as I assured my friends, "A real man has calluses on his forearms." What a great blast from the past. I need to climb trees more often (albeit without any beer in me bludstreem next time and something better than Diadora sandals on my feet!). I have got to get my juices going from time to time, which is why I did 50 pushups straight in class this past Wednesday, at the eventually astounded behest of my students.
I'm not bragging -- a decade ago, at the peak of my fitness, when I could hammer out three sets of 20 pullups, toss miles over shoulder running, crank out a set of 200 pushups without ever standing or kneeling, I might have boasted, but now -- well, I'm just saying how good it feels sometimes to be alive. Sometimes I think if my life could be more or less comprised of reading and writing and tree climbing and judo, grounded in Mass every morning, I'd be a happy man.