Farewell to Bergen: Losing the Weight and THE WEIGHT

As I prepare to leave Bergen, I find myself thinking about losing weight.

The initial observation is rather prosaic: seeing a city filled with healthy, slender giants walking all over has reminded me of the importance of committing to a healthy lifestyle. It’s not about vanity; it’s not about wanting to be as stylish as these people (seriously!); it’s simply about ensuring that I will have the capacity to do the things I want to do as I get older. After losing all that weight 4-5 years ago, it’s been frustrating to see myself putting it back on, but I realize that is not inevitability. Ten days into the trip, I have met my goals for reduced calories, avoided the temptation to eat all of the delicious baked goods of Iceland and Norway, and can even feel the bonds of my sweet mistress, diet soda loosening.

It may not be wise to choose a European holiday as the time for weight loss, but so far, I am feeling better and more hopeful about going back to the new, old me than I have in some time.

Important as that may be to me, I realized yesterday that I was already casting off another, more insidious WEIGHT: the weight of work responsibilities that beat me down while I am at home. It’s hard to overstate the power of knowing that hadn’t spent the last weekend bent over a table, fuelled by excessive caffeine and grading essays.

Taking time to relax and wander through a city has been a revelation. Bergen has probably been the most relaxed visit I’ve had to a city, and I loved it.

Last night in Bergen Harbor, I watched a sea bird repeatedly drop a clam on the stony sidewalk, trying to get the delicious meat inside. Over and over, the bird dropped the shell, checked to see if he could eat what was inside, and picked it up for another try. Finally, just as his victory seemed real, a pair of ravens swooped down, startled him, and stole his meal. If that doesn’t exactly parallel the act of grading essays in a system that doesn’t necessarily give one credit for the work he has done, I’m not sure what does.

The weight might kill me, if I don’t watch it. The next 10 days strolling across Spain will certainly help with that. But THE WEIGHT certainly will. Finding a way to manage the stress of work, and not take on every load that someone tries to heap on my back is even more important, and far heavier than any pack I will haul across the mountains of Spain.

I’ve got to find ways to lighten that load.