It’s difficult to summon up enough will to exercise every day. Even though I contrived various ways to distract myself during the exercise, so that it doesn’t feel as boring as it really is, exercise is something unfavorable akin to taking medicine or going to a dentist. When I was young, my mom loved herbal medicine, often decocting various leaves and and roots with a clay pot until the whole place was permeated with the bitter smell of herbs. If the smell was bad, drinking it was even worse. I would equate it to a form of child abuse and there should be a law stipulating that no child should be administered liquid herb medicine no matter how enthusiastic their parents are about herbs. For the herb drinks from hell, no amount of sweets, nose-blocking, mind distracting can make it feel not a torture. I tried them all and none worked. For exercise too, I’ve tried videos, audiobooks, getting a big mirror, online poker–yes, playing online poker while exercising–but none seems to be distracting enough to make me forget the fact that I am doing something I really hate.

So I came up with another strategy several weeks ago, a kind of killing two birds with one stone strategy. In middle school, we were asked to create a sentence with the phrase “killing two birds with one stone”, but I couldn’t come up with one. Well, now years later, I finally came up with one. So it seems that I have been growing smarter over the years–well still my intellectual progress is probably too slow for a possible academic career. Anyway, I thought I hate exercise and I hate Shakespeare. So why don’t I combine the two. Doing two unpleasant things at the same time–both odious but both necessary–will shorten the unpleasant time and double the effect. Seriously, exercise is really necessary. Shakespeare is necessary for my writing too. Although I dislike Shakespeare, I know that those native speakers seem to think Shakespeare English are wonderful, for reasons only they themselves can understand. As a non-native speaker, I can’t feel the power of Shakespearean words. I only know that if anybody else write or speak like Shakespeare, he or she will be treated as a lunatic. Actually Tolstoy shared my view, which was described in a great essay I read of George Orwell, who scolded Tolstoy for his callousness and insensibility of a typical non-native English speaker. I don’t really like Tolstoy’s writing very much–I would infinitely prefer Dostoyevsky, Chekov, Gogol, or even Gorky–but I share Tolstoy’s dismay of Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare only for his quotes and it would look nice when I can insert one or two into my own writing. So far I haven’t been able to do it, but with my plan probably I can achieve one or two quotes beyond the overused “method of madness” or “to be or not to be”.

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