Mt. Whitney Part 3: Adieu Fitbit

I have written about the enthusiasm with which I used my Fitbit. In case you missed it, here it is: The Headache Machine. I had it on my person at all times during the day, and even slept with the thing. Days I touched 25,000 steps, the relentless Fitbit would nudge me into trying out another 5000 steps to get to 30,000 and get myself a badge. All extremely annoying for a competitive hog like me. There have been days when the husband scooped me up from the street after I’d put in a hike, a run and a neighborhood stroll just to get to that magical N000 steps before the clock struck midnight and the counter for the next day began. The days I did not make my target number of steps, a certain despondency gnawed at the back of my brain and I muttered about the place trying to walk it off in the kitchen and bedroom. I lured my friends into it, I sneaked a peak at it once at mid-day, then at more frequent intervals as the day wore on. I, after all, had to ensure I met my step count. What I am trying to say is that the Fitbit possessed me like a spirit that was friendly at first and then, as time wore on, turned into a ruthless devil. A fortune-teller peeking into my crystal ball would have seen a tiny piece on my physical body giving me the vapors. “Exorcise it!” she could say in Sybil tones, and I would have clutched at it with my spirit.

Given this, of course, I wanted to see how the Fitbit would do on the Mt Whitney hike. It seemed well worth it, going through all that trouble if the Fitbit, at the end, would send me a wonderful note saying, “You over-achiever, you! Good job. At 83000 steps and 800 floors! Here you are, with a Diamond and Platinum badge that you can display proudly on your Fitbit login page, and brag to your friends about. I will still nag you about your 10000 steps for tomorrow’s goal, but for today, you are above reproach! Or maybe you can try to walk another 2000 steps while you out-run that bear eyeing your pizza and make it a round 85000 steps?”

Since I was not going, I handed the thing gingerly over to the husband, love dripping from my eyes and asked him to take it with him to see the impressive numbers it would come up with. I added with a laugh that it could remind him of me should he miss me while taking in the pure mountain air, and gasping at the views from up there. The day the h and friends drove to Lone Pine, CA, the heart wrenched a bit. Something felt amiss.  It only dawned on me later, that I did not have the fitbit on me. So the day of the hike, I woke the h and wished him luck and all that, and added (nonchalantly I thought) , “Remember to take the Fitbit! Make it proud of you and make you proud of it! Ha Ha!” Which just goes to prove that a device, no matter how well touted, can substitute your brain for wool and make you bleat.

All that day of the hike, my mind was in the mountains imagining the hike, and every now and then, wondering how the Fitbit was doing. But there was also a dawning realization on me. I had relaxed around myself in the day or two that I spent away from it. I was no longer frenzied, no longer walking like a purposeless maniac. I was okay with being in one spot without giving those around me a perpetual sense of motion sickness. What a nuisance I must have made of myself with the Fitbit?! Which only goes to prove that true love trumps everything else. The first thing that occurred to me was that I had been a pesky, fluttering pest the whole time. I had dragged family and friends off on walks so we could talk, when I could have sat with them sipping tea and had just as good a conversation. How wonderful people around me are that they accepted me even when I was behaving thus? I have much to be grateful for and the absence of the Fitbit was making me realize it starkly.

Fluttering Pest with the Fitbit
Fluttering Pest with the Fitbit

The day wore on for the hikers. I waited to hear from them and on their safe return to the hotel, let them sleep it off. It is a mark of my restraint that I only broached the topic the next day afternoon.

The husband sounded apologetic. He said that he had taken the Fitbit out at Mt Whitney and was checking the steps because he knew that would excite me, and then, on the way back, when they were negotiating some tricky switchbacks, things were crazy and it got lost. He doesn’t seem to be remember what constitutes crazy, but I saw some pictures of the switchbacks they were scaling and let it rest.

Switchbacks at Mt. Whitney
Switchbacks at Mt. Whitney

It sounded like a good spot to lay the thing to dust. Its entire lifetime pushing people to scale newer targets and higher heights, what better place for it to finally come to rest than at the highest peak in the contiguous USA?

“I’ll get you another one.” said the husband.

“NO!” I howled and the husband leapt away from the phone groaning like a buffalo torched at the ears.

“What are you doing that for? My ears are still weak from the high alt. Yesterday, it felt like there was a bee hive operating in there, today, only the Queen Bee seems to be holding fort, but still weak in the eardrums.” said the husband.

I muttered a ‘sorry’ and he said, “What? Speak up! I can’t hear you. “

“A bee in your bonnet eh?” I said cleverly. “The point is, please, I beg you. Don’t buy me another Fitbit. My life seems to have become much better without it. “

I still do my spot of exercise, but now, I am doing it listening to the birds, watching the leaves fall and taking in the beauty of the flitting clouds. I am truly enjoying exercise and experiencing the bounty of nature. Not working towards appeasing a cruel, and hard-to-please, cold mistress. What really cut me deep was the seemingly motivating messages that came in as I lowered the tired frame onto the welcoming mattress at 11 p.m., “You can do it! Just 700 steps short of your goal. “

No. I am happy where I am. I have since told friends who asked me to join their Fitbit journey, that mine was probably swallowed by the bear who was deprived of the pizza. (Mt. Whitney Part 2 : The Pizza And The Bear )

The Bear and the Fitbit
The Bear and the Fitbit

Anyone care to join me for a walk now?

P.S: Our friend has written about the journey here, and he is also the one who gave me the pictures for the Mt. Whitney posts:

Happy All Hallows Eve

Did you know November 1st is Saints Day? With Halloween around the corner, I thought it might be fun to see how the word evolved. So, here goes:

November 1st is All Saints Day

Therefore, October 31st is All Saints Eve

October 31st is All Hallows Eve (‘Hallow’ also means to make holy or respect greatly and hence, synonymous with Saints)

October 31st is All Hallows Even (It is the evening after all)

When you try to say ‘Happy All Hallows Even’ about 30 times in 2 minutes, you get at ‘Happy Halloween’. (I suggest you try the exercise in private.)

All this is fine so far, but if you are unsure as to how All Saints Day got associated with ghosts, ghouls, spirits and ugly decor, please check out this news item that walks you through the progression of Halloween over the centuries.

In the meanwhile, two diabolically different worlds are coming together in the household this year for Halloween. A perfectly poised Hermione Granger (replete with the fake British accent) from the Harry Potter Universe will boss around 3 year old Lightning McQueen. Uncharacteristically, for Lightning McQueen, he will listen humbly and follow unquestioningly all the directions that Hermione sets forth for him. So what if the Harry Potter Universe is still using floating candles and speaking Latin, while Lightning McQueen is off touring the world and racing big-time? Who said there should be no collision between fictional worlds?

Speaking of fictional worlds, it is time for us to peek into that lovely forest with all the animals to see what they are doing to celebrate Halloween. Halloween In The Jungle is now available in the iBook store. Tango Tiger, Oby Elephant, Biso Bison, Percy Parrot, Zebo Zebra and many more join in this adventure to make Halloween a success in the Jungle. Please grab a copy, and listen to the story while sipping some pumpkin juice from Farmer Hasalot’s pumpkin patch.

Halloween In The Jungle
Halloween In The Jungle:

The Jungle is a busy place with Halloween approaching, eerie orchestra sounds, pumpkin juice and lemonade stalls, spiders at work. You must feel just a little bit compelled to chip in, right?

The Jungle is a busy place preparing for the Halloween Party
The Jungle is a busy place preparing for the Halloween Party

Happy Halloween! May the force be with you!

The Lost Heart

Through nobody’s fault, I found myself in a state wanting to submit an entry for the 3-minute fiction contest on NPR with an afternoon to spare. Add a production problem at work, 2 unbathed children playing with mud and a hose in the backyard, and a hungry family to the mix and you have the components for story-telling complete. Obviously, I was using all of this as a perfect excuse to not sit and write something. But the husband would hear nothing of the sort and shoo-ed me away to write. The theme was to write a story in which a character finds an object that he or she has no intention of returning.

I wrote out more than a few stories. I had almost decided on this one, but the daughter was so disgusted by the story, that she would not let me send it in. I have written a good many stories for her age group over the past few years and she has always been my trusted reviewer and critic. I love discussing my writing with her. Sometimes, the insights she offers can only come from a child her age and yet seem far more reasoned than I had supposed from someone her age. So, I honored her and did not send this one in, but decided to put it up on my blog instead.

The Lost Heart

This story is about a young girl called Fibrill who found a heart. A human heart.

 The object repulsed her, but she bent down and picked it up anyway like she usually did. This time, a longing engulfed her. The mass felt alien to her hands, but she persevered. She could give it to her mother and maybe that would make her happy. Yes that was it. She ran with the heart in her hands. She was running along the clouds as fast as her legs and the dead weight of the heart would allow her to. But the heart was not dead yet. It was still pulsing and throbbing. 

 As she burst into the kitchen through the back-door, her mother looked shocked. “What is this?”

 “A human heart! A human heart….can you check if it is alive?”

 “Oh dear. I wonder who is missing it. Give it to me.” said her mother rushing to her side.

 Her mother touched the edge of her nose. She saw the familiar transformation as her nose turned blue and the electric blue from her nose tip spread to all the nerve endings in her body. “Fibrill! Give me the heart right now. There is still hope left.”

 The shot of blue pulsed through the heart and Fibrill’s inside, but this time Fibrill did not part with the heart. It was her heart now.

 The man, whose heart it was, lay limp on Earth below.

The daughter did not know the word, but I told her that the word she was looking for was ‘Morbid’. Her expression said it all. Never one to hold back, she said, “Amma – you usually write things that make people happy, how could you write this?”

“Didn’t this make you happy?”. I love needling her.

“No way! This makes no one happy. A heart is lovely – like this! ” she said indignantly and drew me a heart on a post-it note. I must say that is the way I like hearts too. Beautiful and full of throbbing love.

Please let me know what you think of the story.

PS: Ideally, I would have loved to finish the story differently, but the requirement was to have the person not return what they found.

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