He stood in front of the mirror, earphones blasting The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and watched his form as he moved the weights from start to finish.
A thousand years before form had been important to him. It had been part of how he made sure he got the most out of his time in the gym, part of how he would focus on individual parts so that the cuts would look as he thought they should.
But that was then and this is now.
He lifted his shirt and stared at the belly that had once been flat. He flexed and smiled, the cuts were still there. In spite of the extra pounds they responded to the call to show themselves.
Back then he didn’t have to flex to make them seen. All he had to do was take off his shirt and the fruits of his labor were clear. Back then some of it was due to vanity and some of it was due to the way women responded to those cuts. They would run their fingers across the cuts, smile and giggle.
But there was another third to the mix and that was the most important one of all, he loved the high he got from working out. It was a drug that he never tired of and he figured that any drug he could truly label “healthy” was a good thing to keep doing.
Time passed and though he was no longer a college student he was a single man who had no responsibilities outside of work to anyone but himself so he adjusted his schedule and kept lifting like a fiend.
For a long time that worked for him and he continued to follow the routine because it was what he wanted to do and what he needed to do, until it wasn’t.
That changed when his relationship status changed. Girlfriends came and as he got more serious the time that had once been allocated to the gym was adjusted. When girlfriend became wife more adjustments came and so when the day came upon which he looked at himself in the mirror it wasn’t hard to see the evolution of the reallocation of his time.
The biggest change came when he added the title “dad” to his life’s resume and though it was among his greatest joys it was also the primary thing that forced him to accept the distinction between what he had to do and what he wanted to do.
But then as the years passed and he saw what time and age did to friends and relatives he began to evaluate again what he had to do versus what he wanted to do.
It was clear that he had to find a way to create more time for exercise again and that if he didn’t carve out time to carve himself things would get ugly.
And so he stared at himself in the mirror and smiled at the thought of being given permission to reacquaint himself with things left by the wayside and pondered how he would find a way to increase the time there without it taking him back to the days of the ancient workouts he once did.
That was the hard part. He remembered the high and the joy that came with it. He remembered wanting to get it every day and how if he didn’t it would make him cranky. There should be a balance there, at least he would try to find it.
The music stopped playing and he replaced the weights and walked out the door thinking about how he would figure it out. Thinking about the difference in doing what he wanted to do and what he had to do.