“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
I have signed up with the local gym and I’m paying for it, both financially and physically. It’s rewarding but tiring. As I write this I’m creaking. I’m stretched. I’m wearied. But I’m also chuffed.
When running on the treadmill you have options to go on virtual routes through different parts of the world. The screen will show you a slow tracking shot of a path in say Germany or New Zealand. It’s more than a little bizarre. Especially because sometimes the people knocking about in the video know you’re there and sometimes they are oblivious. At one point after I had put the speed up a couple got out of my way but at another point I ran through a man. There was nothing I could do. There’s some kind of tormenting existential metaphor in all this. There’s also lovely panning shots of green trees.
Facts will pop up giving you more information about where you are running. It’s how I found out Munich likes me. Which could be a bit awkward if it ‘likes me’ likes me as I’m married. Maybe it just wants to be BFFs. It would be fun to have a city as a friend. But I don’t want it to get the wrong idea. Maybe if we hang out with Berlin and my wife that’ll make things clear.
Yes, the city motto of Munich is ‘Munich likes you.’ Are there more mottoes like this?
Turin’s got your back.
Paris remembers you from that thing.
Budapest still hasn’t returned your calls.
Liverpool’s good for that tenner.
Bern’s not convinced by that sweater.
Dundee’s asking after you.
If Munich likes us, how do other cities feel about us? If they could talk, what would they say? (Why so snippy Bern?) Perhaps we should have more conversations with the cities we inhabit. Get to know them.
That’s kinda what’s going on with me in the gym. I’m having a conversation with the body I’m in, getting to know it again. I have to say it’s been saying a lot of uncharitable things about me – while I strain and push it. Some quite colourful uncharitable things – change is never easy, but it’s also enjoying the dialogue – seeing itself in a new light.
We need to exercise our cities and our bodies more. Push them gently to test their limits, build their strength and their capacity. There are many challenges ahead for our bodies and our cities but we address them by engaging them not by ignoring them lethargically. We have to care and to listen.
As The Lorax says, it’s down to us to care or things won’t change. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Have a coffee with your yourself, with your city, your town, your village. Listen to it. Pay attention to it. Get to know it.