I cancelled my gym membership last week. As I was walking out, I went past the public swimming pool they have there. Watching all of the swimmers valiantly doing their evening exercise, I had to smile to myself when I thought back to all the plans I had to do lengths in that very pool at least three mornings a week when I first joined the gym.
I have not once used that pool and it got me wondering how much of our lives we live through a fantasy about the things we are going to do ‘one day’. More importantly, does it even matter if we do live a lot of our lives in our heads? As long as we make an actual effort where it counts and we’re not hurting ourselves or anyone else by doing the rest in our imagination, what harm does it do to picture yourself on that Grecian sailing holiday, or imagine what you would do with the money from that elusive lottery win, rather than actually experience these things in real life?
This sounds like a terrible thing to even ask rhetorically, and probably presents me as lazy and someone who can’t ever be bothered to put their plans into action. However, in fact, I would say I am quite the opposite. Instead of the planned mornings of swimming, I have started to go running more regularly in a local park and, when possible, have made the effort to walk home from work.
But, there have been plenty of times during my life, as I am sure there is with anyone, when I have thought about doing something and exactly what it would be like when I carried out this action, but it has just not been practical to turn the plan into a reality. It has normally been replaced by some other activity or it has not been achievable or possible in the sometimes harsh daylight of the real world.
The only times when it seems to matter that a plan did not become reality is when you know it could have done had you made some effort. When you know that you have just been lazy then this imagined world can start to make you feel disappointed in your real world. This usually involves the imagined activity being replaced by an evening in front of the TV.
I suppose much of our lives are just a huge learning curve about the people we think we could be and the people we actually are in the physical world. We need to learn what we will subconsciously make ourselves do and the things that, even with the best will in the world, will always come bottom of the list in reality.
However, on saying this, the likelihood is that, some time around the dreary weather and food-stuffing days of December, I will once again become a member of a gym. And I will probably, for some reason which I cannot quite understand, be most attracted to a gym with a pool, ‘just in case’.