Exercise and It’s Discontents

I crossed the finish line. My time wasn’t great, but I completed the 12 kilometer San Francisco Bay to Breakers race. In 1986, I was young, slim, and reasonably fit. From what people said, it sounded like fun, so I did it.

And how did I feel? Honestly, I felt neither exhausted nor euphoric. I felt nothing, really, except the pain in my knees the following day. It was a task I set out to do, and I completed it. I had no doubt that I would. And I had no expectation that I’d get the “runner’s high.”

Twio X | Parkour Leipzig
I’m still waiting for the day when exercise releases endorphins into my brain, giving me that euphoric feeling after a strenuous physical workout. When is it supposed to start happening?  Please tell me, because I really want to know. I’ve been waiting 4 decades for it.

Frankly, exercise leaves me with only one, simple feeling: tired. That seems normal, doesn’t it?  I’ve put out effort, I’ve burned all my calories. What else should I be expecting?

Euphoria, apparently.

That’s not to say I don’t have my exercise routines, because I do. I make a point of walking for 20 to 30 minutes each day, outdoors. And I lift weights on a regular basis.  If I’m being really good, I ride my bike once in a while. But these all have side benefits independent of any expected euphoria. Walking and biking get me outdoors. The weights allow me to avoid being embarrassingly unmanly when I have to lift something.

They are not, however, driven by any passion or expectation of euphoria. My exercise is a necessary evil, a means to an end, not an end itself. It is like sex in a passionless marriage, or the routine of a dull job. I do it because I’m supposed to, and I pretend to like it.

I could really use a dose of that alleged euphoria I hear so much about, though. It might make a difference.

Was It Something I Said?

We broke up by email.

“Dear band friends,” it said. “I emailed Mike yesterday to let him know that I was planning on leaving the band and that I thought we should disband. We talked it over today and we are in agreement — while we may individually (and collectively) continue to play music in various configurations, the band is no more.  –Brad”


Me – the bass player – going for it at one of our better gigs.

I was okay with it at first. There had been some signs that foretold our demise. Our drummer had quit and we were struggling to find our sound without her. We needed to either a) locate a new drummer or b) figure out a new configuration to play our songs with what we had. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise that it just wasn’t going to work out.

But then, about six months later, I found out that, with a new band name, Mike was playing again with our singer. A few months after that, Brad had joined them and they played an outdoor gig nearby.

That meant that, besides the drummer who quit, the band was back together. Except without me.

I won’t say that it didn’t sting. Because it did. And it still does.

At the outset, the break up seemed unremarkable. I’d been with the band for four years, and Mike and Brad had been playing together for about six. We’d performed a respectable number of paying gigs and recorded a CD. But these kinds of things have a life cycle, and time was beginning to take its toll. The drummer quitting was the final straw, and while we tried to limp along for a couple of months, it wasn’t working and we knew it.

At least, that’s what I thought. But now Brad, Mike, and the singer are playing together again, so there clearly is no tension or grudge held there. The drummer quit. Of all of us, I’m the only member who

  • was not consulted on the break up,
  • did not leave voluntarily, and
  • was not asked to rejoin.

I think they’re trying to tell me something.

But what? I gave all I had to give to the band. My bass playing was only getting better. I provided valuable suggestions on riffs and arrangements that were readily adopted. I supplied back-up vocals and percussion. I showed up to all the gigs. What did I do that merits being exiled? Was it something I said?

Sure, if I wanted to be blunt, I could ask. But I’ve only had a few conversations with Brad over the past year, and none with Mike. It’s not like I’ve had the opportunity to easily bring up the topic. And I don’t think it would go over well if I showed up unannounced, demanding an explanation. That would just make me look crazy.

Besides, actions speak louder than words. The message is loud and clear.

The new band will be performing in the next couple weeks. They have a different guy playing bass. They didn’t even extend me the courtesy of a personal note.