"Put Down the Duckie" is one of my favorite Sesame Street songs. If you listen to a little of this clip, you'll see why. (If you have five minutes to spare, listen to the whole thing. It's a star-studded trip through the late 80's.) Ernie gets great advice: "You gotta put down the Duckie if you wanna play the saxophone." Ernie wants to play the saxophone: I want to ski, hike uphill, and sit cross-legged on the floor. After years of inactivity and too much good food, I'm on a diet, trying to learn a new way to eat and exercise.
I love reading, writing, conversation, going to the theater, and drawing. I find these activities deeply engaging, recreational in the best sense of the word, and I hate the word sedentary---where would the world be if Jane Austen had been into extreme sports? I know that other people find physical activity satisfying in ways I don't understand. My partner Garden Girl builds stone walls and digs ponds for fun, then returns to the house sweaty, muddy and triumphant. I don't get it, but I want to. (Well, maybe not dirt part.)
I love to share a meal with my family and friends. Everything from planning the menu to the last candlelit moments lingering at the table is a pleasure to me. Even the clean-up is a chance to continue the conversation or reflect on the evening. I love to go to the market and find a great new cheese or splurge on wild king salmon. I love to see my children make old family recipes. I love fine dining and beautiful cookbooks.
I want to join my skiing, bike-riding, soccer-playing family, but to get there I must put aside the familiar and beloved habits I've acquired, at least for a little while, and learn a new way of being. It's not a matter of just eating moderately and exercising a little, I have to change the way I view myself in the world. I've got to put down the duckie so I can learn to play the saxophone.