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How fast do you lose upper body strength that took 15 years to attain? How many weeks can you go without practicing your instrument(s) before you sound embarrassingly bad? How long does it take to get over a major disappointment, regardless of the many friends who are telling you that you’ve done an amazing thing? How long does it take to recover after challenging your body like you never have before?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself since my return from the desert.

Look, I saw people on my walk who live in a tent ALL the time—and not because there’s no motel nearby, or because they enjoy looking at the stars at night. I get that.

But I’ve now returned to my own life, my own home, my own wife, and my own cat. And it isn’t easy (well, the cat came around fast; she’s no fool).

On Friday I resumed my home workout. The pull-ups and pushups, squats and planks I could do just a month and a half ago were now a real challenge. I did what I could. Today it was a little easier.

This afternoon I picked up the flute and worked through some exercises and scales. There’s a saying in music that if you don’t practice for one day, no one notices. After two days, you notice. After three days, your friends notice. After four days of not practicing, everyone notices.

You lose it fast, folks. My recovery is more than just physical. It encompasses every facet of my life. And this is without having some type of major surgery that a number of my close friends have recently undergone.

The weight I lost is coming back an ounce at a time. I’m weak, fatigued, spent. For better or worse, I made a disappointing but correct decision, and I didn’t come home in a box.

But re-entry to and reclamation of my former life will take time. (Weeks? Months?) I walked three miles around Lake Merritt yesterday. I’ll continue to exercise and practice. I’ll regain my strength and skills. Time will pass and so will the pain of my disappointment. I lead a good life and am well aware of that. I am blessed in many ways.

@ Oakland, California

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