Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The School of Life

TECATE, Mexico---This week I'm teaching writing at the health and fitness spa Rancho La Puerta in the mountains of Baja.

The guiding principle of this place is to help make healthy people healthier. Hikes go up the mountains (seriously up) starting at 6 every morning. And there are six or ten different classes going almost every hour from 9 until late afternoon. Most are about physical fitness: dance, yoga, that sort of thing.

In the afternoons classes focus on mind and spirit, to add to the body part of the equation. These are referred to on the schedule as the school of life, and include such topics as bird-watching, introductory Spanish, meditation, how to get the most out of a nap, etc.

This is my fifth time spending a week teaching here, and I love the place. When I'm not on duty, I feel as if I'm enrolled in the school of "improved self" and the process is delightful. (The gyms are charming, which I didn't think was possible--stone and tiles and good art and glass walls with views of gardens. Pictures to come.)

When I'm home, I do work out, but certainly not hours a day. In fact, I was once accused by a significant other of being interested in nothing but words and ideas. (Not so. But it was indeed true that I'm not interested in watching ballgames on TV.)

In any event, it's a huge shift to go from most days spent at my desk, to yesterday's cardio boxing, my first such experience, followed by this morning's 3.5 mile hike, exactly one half of that uphill.

The change--such an immersion in physical activity--feels invigorating. It feels bold. For the moment, I'm a new woman, and enjoying it.

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