Not really storytimes, but just – in fitness news – I have some silly anecdotes from workouts over the past two weeks. The key word here is silly. If you’re curious to know how Body Combat led me back to the poems of the British Romantics, read on.
(Body Combat) Halfway through the warm-up track, the instructor says, “Did you know this song is about a mouse?” Her innocent question amounts to a proverbial shattering of a worldview. You’re flung into mental chaos. You always heard “I’m an ALBATROSS” in the song, and now here you are with a MOUSE. You cannot concentrate on the rest of the warm-up track. Your mental focus suctions onto the song’s lyrics, and you still hear “albatross” instead of “mouse.” You finish the track chagrined that you wasted it merely going through the motions because the albatross turned out to be a mouse, and you see the situation for what it is: a hazard of being an English major and a creative writing grad program, workshopped-to-death poet in a Body Combat class.*
(Body Pump) You wear hot pink lipstick and a pink tie-dye t-shirt to Body Pump on account of it being Valentine’s Day, and someone remarks that you look “really awake.” You then contemplate wearing hot pink lipstick to every Body Pump class so you can look really awake every time. But you know there’s no way that’s going to happen.
(Step Plus Abs, actually Advanced Step): You show up to your second class and you still don’t know what you’re doing, so you decide to go hard or go home and make every step-knee high and sharp, and every step-kick high and sharp, and this time you leave the gym looking like the same drowned rat you resemble when you leave Body Combat. This goes to show that when the question is Step, the answer is Muay Thai.
Or do you leave Body Combat looking like a drowned mouse? Or like an albatross?
I’m so confused.
Seriously, though! I’ve re-read Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner three times since that Body Combat class, because that’s how my obsessive mind works. Plus, I love that poem. I’m not a literary snob; I have no shame in declaring The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to be one of my favorite lyrical ballads of the Romantic period. Since re-reading it these last two weeks, it’s captivated me anew. It’s just… the story, and the way Coleridge tells it… it gets me.
Like most people, I think, I first read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in grade school, and that’s how I learned about the existence of the albatross. Among other things, the poem teaches us to love and respect all animals, “man and bird and beast.” Coleridge wrote, “He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small; / For the dear God who loveth us, / He made and loveth all.”
On a related note, I now have a real bucket list item: I want to observe an albatross in the wild, live and in-person, even though I’d first have to board some sort of sea vessel and travel to distant (and probably cold) waters. The albatross is magnificent. I had no idea. I am enchanted. I am in love.
This video demonstrates the size of the albatross:
This next video steals my breath. The splendor of these birds!
*Note to self: remember to ask the Body Combat instructor what release that song is from so I can look it up and understand the context of the mouse and maybe not hear “albatross” the next time she throws that track into the mix.