Dear reader,

It’s January 8 and there’s a good chance your fitness goals, if any, have begun fading into fantasy by this point. That’s not a dig at you. A comprehensive 40-second search for “ny resolution stats” tells me only 8% of people manage to achieve their resolutions. I’ve never been able to keep one up and for this reason, I had simply stopped making any. Not setting any standards seemed the more dignified way of giving up than failing after earnestly noting down a must-do list. That was until last year, when I measured my waning poise against my weakening knees and took a call.  Some might say it was a matter of digkneety.

(They may leave.)

As a former sportsman of passable ability, I did not anticipate that my first day at the gym would end in 12 minutes. For context, that’s how long the warm-up round lasts in a 50-minute session where I work out. You see, as a former sportsman of passable ability, I knew all the drills, and performed them at bustling levels. But my excitement could barely mask one-fourth of the chasm between my past self and what I had become – Current Man of Negligible Ability.

The only thing worse than blacking out is when you’re teetering on the edge of blacking out, but your bastard ego won’t relent. Sitting up was an event – stars, spots, whistling. Looking at the floor was an event – ascending darkness and the hissing of my heart: ‘Great resolution, genius.’

After intermittently switching between the two states, and looking for 20 minutes like an atheist who was learning how to pray, I got back on my feet and left. The trainer didn’t even take time out to tell me that this was the norm for first-timers, or that it was okay and he’d passed out too on his first try, or other such sweet patronizing things. Not even a “no pain, no gain!” That’s not a hard thing to tell someone.

I left with my silence, my shame, and my new boots in my hands. It took me a week to go back, and two months had already passed. Spoiler: I wasn’t part of the 8% in 2018.

This week’s Story of the Week took me straight back to that day. You don’t forget the first time your body fails you. Like the writer of the piece, Christopher Solomon, says, the big surprise isn’t that it happened but that you barrelled along for so long without anticipating it. We’re designed to break down, some earlier than others.

And that notion is played out perfectly in one of the other pieces of the week, which is a fabulously researched piece on how millennials became the burnout generation. It’s been a while since we’ve had such congruence between articles. It’s been a while, in fact, since we had so many pieces of top quality. Some writers have certainly started swimmingly in their pursuits for the year. As for me, a simple revision this year on my must-do list: be realistic about all goals. I’ve already failed at not consuming any carbonated drinks.

What are your plans?




Stories of the week – When your body says no


How millennials became the burnout generation

Richard Feynman’s extraordinary letter to his departed wife

How a DNA testing kit revealed a family secret of 54 years

What if Vijayanagar had survived?

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