Friday, April 13, 2012

Swords and Books

I started watching Game of Thrones this week.

I know, I know, I'm a little behind the times but trust me, I doing well.  Usually I discover shows about four years after they've gone off the air. I'm only a few months behind this time. Part of my excuse for taking even that long is that I wanted to read the book before watching the show. I prefer to know the story before watching, particularly for sweeping sagas like Game of Thrones (or Lord of the Rings - hello!)

There are several characters in Game of Thrones that I'm really drawn to - for various reasons. Some reasons are deep and spiritual - others are rather superficial (her hair is so pretty!)

One of my favourites is Tyrion. For those of you who don't know him - he's a compelling combination of intelligence and debauchery. I'm not sure if I'd like him if I met him in person but he never fails to make me think and I love watching him on screen. You can see his mind working away - taking everything in - filing it away for later.

There was one scene in one of the first episodes that I can't seem to get out of my head. Tyrion was sitting by himself, reading a book. John Snow (another favourite of mine) asked him why he is always reading. Tyrion replied that a knight's weapon is his sword and he must practice with it and keep it sharp. Tyrion's weapon is his mind - so he reads to keep it sharp.

It seems that, in the Game of Thrones world anyway, most people do one or the other. They train their bodies...or they train their minds. (Or they drink and eat to excess and spend way too much time in brothels but that's for another blog entry.)

It got me thinking (of course it did) about the idea of training the body and training the mind.

I spend my work days sitting at a desk typing and thinking. Or sitting in meetings, talking and thinking. Or solving problems. Or answering questions. Or writing reports. I feel like I spend a lot of my day in my head.

So I spend a lot of my free time training my body. I get up early and make time on weekends to run, cycle and swim - constantly trying to get stronger, faster, better than I am.

But here's the thing. The only way to get better physically is to push yourself. If you always run 5k on the same route at the same pace, your body stagnates there. It gets so used to it that you can hardly imagine doing anything but that route at that pace. So you have to push, change the pace, the distance, the incline - whatever.

At work, I do a lot of thinking but, to be honest, it's always the same kind of thinking. It's not easy (and it makes my head hurt) but it's predictable and I'm used to it. It's kinda like running 5k over and over.

The best way I have found to push my body is to sign up for races.

I wish there were races I could sign up with to get me to push my mind.

It feels a little stagnant.

I didn't even notice until Doug and I had a debate the other night. It was one of those academic conversations you have in university, sitting in a dorm room with a bunch of students so full of ideas that their brains are coming out of their ears (to steal a phrase from said Doug). Doug had his points, I had mine. I wanted to push my point but I also wanted to learn more about his perspective. Back and forth it went until my brain was full and my neurons were tingling. I no longer remembered my original argument and I felt like I had just run 10k.

It was wicked!

And I want more!

Apparently I need to take a note from Tyrion's book and spend as much time exercising my brain as I do my body. Otherwise one will go to mush while the other gets stronger.

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