The standard track is 400 meters. A good time for a high school runner to complete one lap is a minute or less. If a runner can keep that pace for two laps, a two minute 800 meter is pretty impressive. Four laps at that pace is worth national recognition. A marathon at that pace would smash the world record! It’s not truly about the pace. Anyone can do it for 10 meters. It’s the consistency!
We’re all capable of great things. That is for sure! The question is how long can we maintain it? In order to keep that pace for 10 laps, first you must do one. Therein lies the problem with most of us. We want the end result without the work of the preparation. Showing up when no one is watching and enduring the pain of holding out, longer and longer. It’s not for everyone especially when it comes to running. However it applies to so many things in our lives. We can intentionally show up consistently in this area or that. Do it enough times and you could be the best in the world.
At bare minimum, you can be the best in the world at being you. Consistently and intentionally show up as the best version of you. Have the recipe memorized! Have the ingredients at the ready! And turn up the heat/energy on you! The people who love that recipe will keep coming back for it if it’s consistent. Every day you have the opportunity to amaze.
The easiest things are often the wrong things. OH! How I wish this was not the truth! I’d love it if chocolate ice cream made you thinner and sitting on the couch was the key to physical fitness. Unfortunately, neither is true and so many other easy answers come up empty. While the list of easy answers is long, I only want to focus on two: giving up and hatred. Although they have a ton of company as easy answers, they may be the most problematic.
Giving up is easy because it truly is a lack of action. Doing nothing is far easier than doing something. Therefore, giving up is the ultimate in easy answers to any situation. As soon as a task becomes too difficult (or even before that point), giving up is bound to be easier than continuing. That is exactly why it is such a problem. Giving up takes no effort but it is also bound to lead to no results either. The reason that I point it out now is the pervasiveness with which I see it show up in the world. People don’t just give up, they come up with the stories and statistics to make themselves feel better possibly even justified in giving up. I get it! No one wants to feel badly, especially about themselves. However, discerning when to give up and when to “stick it out” is a muscle that needs to be developed. If the default answer is just to give up, then the “stick it out” muscle never gets developed and every endeavor of value becomes a loss.
The other easy thing is hatred. Yet again, it takes almost no effort. Hatred is a strong emotion that can drain energy but it takes no real thought or discernment. In recent years, people seem to have gotten more adept at it. Any person or group that does not align with my personal leanings and beliefs, it’s just easier to hate than understand. Curiosity and understanding take mental effort. They are not easy and require a “letting go” of your own point of view for a moment. It’s so much easier to hang onto that viewpoint and add disdain for anyone who disagrees.
The problem with both of these easy things is that neither make the world a better place when they become the status quo. Are there times to give up? Absolutely! Hatred is not an emotion that I allow myself to get to easily (if ever) but I can understand times where it feels appropriate. So the name of the game is deciding on a personal level when to use each. Hopefully we’re not too far gone with either of these. Both seem to have cultural momentum behind them and only through individual decisions can the tide be changed. We are all pieces of a larger whole. No one person can make a societal shift. However, many individual people doing the harder thing can influence change because a good example is something we can follow.
Although they can be seductive, the easiest things are not always the best things. Progress requires effort, doubt can only be removed by action and love is a far better feeling to wrap yourself in than hate. So use your best judgment! You’ve got it within you to do some harder things. Anyone that you respect or hold in high esteem has and wouldn’t you like to feel that way about you too! Self-respect and self-esteem don’t come for free! They’re not easy!
When I was a kid, I collected baseball cards. It was not a long lasting endeavor but while I was doing it, it took up a lot of my time. Since it was the pre-internet days, the value of a card wasn’t determined on Ebay. There was a magazine that came out regularly to tell you the value of the cards that you owned. Despite the “agreed upon” value of a card, there were also personal reasons to want a card: your favorite player, a set of your favorite team, etc. My most prized card was a George Foster card from when he played with the Cincinnati Reds. It wasn’t the most expensive card in the world or the most expensive that I owned. It was the most important one to me though. I bought it as an individual card because I knew that I wanted it. Most of the cards that I had were acquired in packs. It was the luck of the draw. Eventually the collection became less of a priority and collected dust in my parent’s house. I’m not sure when it was sold off but I still own all of my George Foster cards.
The description above may be recognizable to many people. The search for value in a particular area of interest. Some people enjoy the search. Others enjoy the find. The value of the items being searched through is completely subjective regardless of price tag. In the past year, I’ve felt the need to foray into a world that I didn’t expect to be in.
The world of online dating reminds me of my baseball card days but in an unsettling way. The searching part is semi-similar with the pictures, “statistics” and bios. There is a perceived value from the searcher that is based on personal preferences. The area that is most disconcerting to me is the people on the other end of this search and selection process. If I chose to put my Phil Niekro cards in the bottom of my hamster’s cage, Phil didn’t know about it nor was he upset. It’s not him, just his card. My lack of interest in his card doesn’t take anything away from him personally. However, the people on the opposite end of this search and selection process are impacted. Sometimes directly and others indirectly. Regardless, they are still people.
Most recently I’ve stared to feel like a baseball card. It’s not all of the time, just in certain instances. The baseball card feeling comes when I’ve matched with someone and then……. nothing! No communication. Just sitting there. It’s happened more than I’d like to admit. I’d like to call it ghosting but I believe that’s when communication from one side just stops. This is a strange message to send. “I like your profile enough to match but not to talk.” It seems like a bit of a waste and also discounts the person on the other end. Now I’m far from perfect. I have ghosted a few people in the past year but overall, I try to end the conversation with something. A recognition that there is a person on the other end of this equation and I know it.
As so many of our first interactions with people tend to be online, it’s easy forget people exist. Fully formed human beings who have all of the same needs for oxygen, water, food, shelter, love, etc. They are on the other end of that screen. Maybe they are not the person for you. That’s ok! Swipe left or hit the X button. There’s no shame in that. Mistakes happen too! “Whoops, I hit the ‘Super Swipe’ button with my really big thumbs!” It’s not a problem either. My standard message to end a conversation talks about it not “gaining traction” and that’s fine as well. Perhaps I’m too much of an empath and worry about those people who get effect by these things. With all of the stresses of our world, the ambiguity of not knowing where you stand seems unnecessary.
I don’t want to be a baseball card, an item to be collected but not engaged with. A lack of interest is easy to take but the uncertainty wreaks of a forgetfulness. Forgetting that we’re all humans and deserve a little better. Sure the dating world is not for the faint of heart but it also doesn’t need to be for the reckless and uncaring. We’re all in the same boat and could stand to do a little better for each other.
So many things in our lives come down to balance. Although we need water to live, too much can be problematic with either straight up drowning or other issues. Everything has its correct dose. More isn’t always better. And the positive ingredient can become poisonous when it is allowed to dominate the mixture.
With humans, it’s often a difficult equation to balance. The number of varied components in the human animal make us an almost impossible equation to balance. Despite that fact we must try, tweak and attempt to find a balance, it’s not coming easily. Often it’s degrees of imbalance that we feel rather than anything resembling balance. Since the right answer isn’t coming easily, maybe we just need to recognize when we’ve got it majorly wrong!
I’m speaking metaphorically, so hopefully I won’t upset anyone but I think we need to be punched in the face more! The PF and PB ratio is the comparison of how many times someone is “punched in the face” rather than “patted on the back” by life! The ratio isn’t particularly intended to be in balance. In fact most of the time; it won’t be. However, the equation seems to have gotten way out of balance. People have take so many sharp edges off of life and it seems as though no one expects to be “punched in the face” metaphorically by life anymore. People are looking to be celebrated for their minuscule contributions. It’s not that they never should be, it’s a balance!
So! What if we started to embrace the fact again that PFs are coming our way and that’s alright. They’re not the only thing that is on the horizon! However they are a necessary part of the equation so that we can eventually get more PBs. The problem is that PBs don’t come for free. Yet somehow people think they should. PFs aren’t the only way to “earn” PBs but they often correlate.
So if you’re getting “punched in the face” by life, do your best to make it through the onslaught with your head held high. The pats on the back are coming at some point. They just don’t come exactly when we want them!
It doesn’t compute at first for most people! In fact it is sometimes denied forcefully. People have gotten very comfortable with the idea that fear is a negative. Something to be avoided at all cost. While I’ll grant anyone the fact that fear doesn’t feel good, it’s not a 100% negative emotion. It’s actually one of our most important compasses. We’d truly be nothing without it and if used intelligently, its benefits are limitless.
So just think where we’d be today if it wasn’t for fear? Extinct! Our ancestors would have been petting sabertooth tigers left and right until the human race was gone. I’m sure most people would grant me that one. It’s a device to avoid pain or death. Slightly positive, sure! But it definitely doesn’t feel good in the moment. No doubt! A pit in your stomach, sweaty palms, increased heart rate… if you take away the negative connotation, it sound almost exactly like or at least the next door neighbor of EXCITEMENT! The difference is that fear carries disposition toward a negative outcome. What if you were able to change that slightly to a recognition? See the possible negative outcome but put it off to the side a bit and make room for the positive as well. After all, fear is just a signal that you care and there are stakes. We’ve taken too many of the edges off of life. “Our deepest fears are like dragons, guarding our deepest treasures.” -Rilke. Fear is a barrier that we must get through in order to realize our desires. If the thing that you’re chasing doesn’t carry some fear with it, aren’t you playing it safe then?
Perhaps I’ve convinced you! Perhaps not! But fear isn’t going anywhere! It is here to stay. The question becomes: what will be your relationship with it? Will you run from it? Hide from it? Or dance with it? Hear the signal that it’s giving you! This thing on the other side of fear, means something to you. If it’s a sabertooth tiger, by all means, RUN LIKE HELL! If it’s a job opportunity, a beautiful woman, handsome man, a goal, or whatever else; consider leaning into the fear because it’s a positive emotion!
The only thing we have to fear is not fear itself but inaction due to fear. That’s where real tragedy comes!
The periodic table is organized in such a way that similar acting elements are grouped together. The Noble gases are put together because of their structure and common reluctance to react. More reactive elements are also grouped together to bring order to the basic components that make up this world. Scientists can put elements together, be confident about what will happen and the final result. Humans are far less predictable!
While we can be characterized in a variety of ways, it is almost impossible to predict how we will react in any given combination with others. Personality tests, ancestral background, love languages, communication styles and so many more components can be studied and quantified. Yet there is no certainty about anything that will result from human interaction. From my own life, I’ve had horrible relations with people who “on paper” should be my best friend. Then at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve felt closest to people who were vastly different, almost my antithesis. So, how do we exist in a world that is filled with such unpredictable creatures?
We pay attention, learn, try to understand and repeat. None of us is perfect! We’re bound to mess up from time to time. Even the most consistent people are going to have an off day. They are going to fuck up! We’re all flawed! Yet those flaws are often what make us beautiful. It proves that we are human. I’m sure that robots and angels exist with a consistency that we all think that we aspire to have. Yet I truly believe that the human element is crucial to a meaningful life. It’s where love and loss coalesce into equally important life experiences because they are not programmed. They’re human! Maybe it would be easier if there was an algorithm that put us together with the people that were best suited for us (eHarmony claims to have it). Yet there is something about this imperfect chemistry experiment that makes it feel worthwhile.
I’m kind of fed up at this point! Recently, the C word seems to be everywhere. Mainly I’m worried about kids using it. Language patterns can be tough to break and they impact the way that we think. Repeatedly using a word that’s detrimental to our psyche can easily slip past the radar if “everyone is doing it!” I get it! Kids have foul mouths at times. They drop an F-bomb here or there. No problem! But why in the f#$&ing H double hockey sticks does anyone need to even say the most damaging four letter word of them all? CAN’T
It hurts me even to put that deplorable word onto the screen! Hopefully my mother doesn’t read this!
Of course, I’m being a little ridiculous about this. Can’t isn’t a traditional curse word. You won’t get sent to the principal’s office for saying it. However, it hurts me when I hear it used so easily surrounding actions that are quite simple and possible for the individual. Somehow, we’ve become enamored with our limits rather than our possibilities. And those limits aren’t based in reality! They’re some arbitrary construction that has been thrown up due to a small amount of difficulty.
Struggle, challenge, and difficulty are all reasonable train stations to get off at before reaching the last stop of CAN’T! Life is not that binary. If we treated more pursuits like toddlers do walking, we’d all be slightly better off. Cutting off future success due to a few stumbles is foolish enough that even babies know better than to do it. Or perhaps giving up is a learned trait that we need to stop teaching!
Watch your mouth today because your brain is listening!
It’s an extremely selfish concept at face value. Putting yourself before everyone else is usually derided and chastised but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. While the sentiment seems selfish, we must remember that the world is ruthless. It doesn’t tend to give out as many pats on the back as it does punches in the face. So there are times when it is absolutely appropriate to put yourself first. Especially when it comes to belief!
You need to believe in yourself first before anyone else’s belief matters. No matter how many people may be cheering you on from the sidelines. If you don’t believe, you’re sunk! Where that belief comes from is up to you. Maybe it’s based on past experience or examples from others. Or possibly it’s just a choice that needs to be made with no evidence whatsoever. Regardless, it’s a necessary component to any endeavor and it’s up to you first.
So put your hand up! Me first! I need to stand up and be counted before anyone else gets to vote.
I love language! There are so many nuances to the ways that we express things. Since language is a representation of thought, it means that we are even more nuanced mentally. Within each of us, there is a unique set of experiences, patterns and potential diverse enough to astound everyone we meet! And sometimes we just watch Netflix. Our actions define who we are in the moment and over the long haul. At one point, all of us were completely dependent on others for survival. Over time, we refined who we were until we were at least partially, if not wholly able to care for ourselves.
Going through the modern life of a human being can be tricky and as far as I know we’re the only species with the capability to “lose” ourself. Other animals singularly exist in their own experience. The existential crisis never hits them because the squirrel is too busy being a squirrel to be anything else. A human can be so many things that it can get confusing about whether we are being who we are or acting like what others want. With all of the nuance that comes in our lives, there is no true “authentic” self. If we were all being authentically human, we’d all be crapping in our pants and probably not wearing pants for that matter! But I digress. So the question isn’t one of authenticity, it is more comfortability. Are you comfortable in your skin representing to the world as who you are?
As we’ve become more “refined”, it’s easy to be swayed in one direction or the other toward actions that may not serve us. At that point, it may be necessary to “re-find” one’s self. Get back to some of the thoughts and actions that were seminal to the development of identity. Neither one is particularly the right move. Whether you feel the need to refine or re-find who you are, only you can make that choice. Other’s can thrust it upon you but the choice is in your hands. You’re never stagnant! At this moment, you’re a different person than you were when you started reading. Just be aware of that comfort that you have about sitting within your own skin.
For some reason, I’ve always had an issue deciphering between what I would call “2nd tier candy.” I don’t usually eat that much candy and other than a former colleague who used to love telling me the jokes from her Laffy Taffy, never had them thrust upon me. So Now and Later candies could be bitter, sweet, sour or all of the above and I really wouldn’t know. However, I do recognize the bitter and sweet relationship between now and later in life.
As humans, we respond so much better to now. It’s extremely concrete, urgent and gives us immediate feedback. Whether it’s a piece of candy or an Amazon Prime purchase, we get that rush of the moment and often it whisks us away.
Later is a much tougher concept. Yes! We can rationalize long term benefits because our brains have developed to do so. However, it takes slightly more effort because we have to get past a lot of nows to get to later. That can be difficult, especially today because so many people and corporations want to hijack your now.
So it’s really up to you and what you want. The original title to this blogpost was going to be “there’s no six pack in your future without crunches in your present.” That might have been a more specific post meant just for me but you get the point. So many of the things that we want for ourselves require a long term view. It’s not easy. It’s not convenient and often we must forego a lot of sweet moments in favor of bitter ones. Swallowing down all of those difficult moments is necessary and we know it. Unfortunately, many of us tend to lose heart and focus because of all the now that we’re sacrificing. So make sure that this thing is something that you really want, then pony up all of the now that’s necessary.
Later is on its way and no one can stop it. The version of you that shows up is dependent upon how you spend the nows in between. How will you feel when later shows up? Proud that you held onto that vision of later and stayed the course? Or regretful for all of the nows that were squandered? As usual, it’s up to you!