It’s 35 degree Celsius and 95% humidity in Malaysian Borneo. I’m hungover and have a belly full of nothing but coffee. I’m wearing long pants. It’s time to run.
I’ve been desperately searching for some inspiration to kick start my first FYMP post and I think I finally found it. I’m just going to get right into it: four former coworkers of mine died in a military plane crash in Afghanistan a couple days ago. While I was not personally close to these men, many of my close friends were. It has also dredged up feelings held over from a plane crash a year ago, on which I did have close friends.
When I found out about the wreck, I was in the middle of planning a trip to Malaysian Borneo. The tickets had been purchased, I was just doing the research to figure out what I was going to do there. Needless to say, this planning was taken off the rails and was never really completed. Fast forward a couple of days and I found myself getting shit-faced in a bar outside my hostel a few hours after landing in Kota Kinabalu. This led to sleeping in (like, to 12:30 pm) the next day which led to feelings of depression for wasting my time here. Overall bad.
Additionally, in an effort to justify my laziness, I busted out the computer in order “to write.” Really that just turned into me surfing the internet under the guise of “research” for my first post. I finally had to admit to myself that I was suffering from project saturation and going impotent in the face of it. Deadlines are drawing near on a bunch of schoolwork and I have so much that I want to write about for FYMP that I was all thrust and no vector and getting nothing done as a result. Further depressing.
I finally made a step in the right direction by putting the computer away and deciding to go for a walk. Walking down the coast of the Sulu Sea, I spotted a Starbucks. Yeah, a drip coffee is somehow the equivalent of US$3, but screw it, I want coffee. With my hot coffee making me even sweatier than I already was walking around in this humid oven, I kept trundling down the seawall. I started screwing around by balancing on the edge, jumping back and forth over the ditch, hoping a few rocks. Nothing significant, but the additional movement along with the walk was helping me to get my mind off of stuff.
That’s when I suddenly recalled a technically inconclusive yet operantly encouraging study I read while doing “research” earlier in the day about brain activity during a walk through a city vice a park. Basically, and spoiler alert, walking in nature is better for you. Shocker. This in turn led me to my self reminder: Move, Matt. I had also made promises to myself and others that I would MovNat the hell out of Borneo. Next thing you know, the only thing I could think about was killing my coffee and finding a trash can.
I succeeded in killing the coffee, but couldn’t find a trash. Of course I’m not going to litter, so screw it, I’m wearing adventure pants, I’ll just shove the trash in a pocket even if it is a bit wet with coffee. That’s when I started going. First it started as a slow jog down the actual wall of the seawall. Then it grew in intensity and I found myself making a few leaps across some crags. I kept reminding myself to keep my legs under me and not in front of me, especially since my Minimus and my socks were already wet (more on that in a future post). That’s when I saw a sign for the wetlands preserve and decided to run there.
Long story short, I kept running. Persistence style. I had no idea where I was going and I let my goldfish attention span take over. Up hills, down hills, ohheylookanotherpath, time to play a few minutes of pick up soccer with some locals, ohheylookstairs, and so on. I was wearing my aforementioned “adventure pants” (long, cargo style) and a long-sleeved, button-down shirt. But screw it, you don’t always get to choose when to run.
Finally, I made it back into Kota Kinabalu. My feelings for my former coworkers and for all of the brave men and women who continue to do that job no less diminished, but a renewed appreciation for life gained. The lesson I learned here is that no matter the specific circumstances, a little bit of movement can go a long way. I ended up scratched, bruised, exhausted and so sweaty that I needed to take a shower with my clothes on (no way could they go without a wash), but I was in such a better place emotionally and mentally. My contributions to FYMP will continue to explore this phenomenon and hopefully help as many people as possible improve their quality of life.