The doughboy to ironman project is not just about the vanity of chronicling some “achievement” that really, let’s face it, is pretty random and, in and of itself, kind of silly. A whole subculture has grown around people trying to recreate what amounts to a bar bet among hardcore athletes at a dinner in Hawaii. You get a “medal” just for finishing, which is a source of great online debate between the tough guys and the back of packers like me. But as I am fond of saying, if you want to debate the merits of a finisher’s medal, well then let’s be really honest: any athletic medal is completely insane, next to the concept of REAL medals. Memorial Day should have reminded us of that.
OK, so enough waxing not-quite-poetic. What I’m getting at, is that the whole reason for blogging is to encourage others who think that it’s not possible to make changes in one’s life. I am not as interested in completing an ironman, as I am in becoming the kind of person who has the drive and discipline to do so. As played out as reality TV has made this phrase, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
So I write about 12-step recovery, a topic you will hear more and more about. As I get further into the process, it’s less about the food, and more about the core character and personality of the person. This is how the 12-step program has helped people with all sorts of addictions.
With that in mind, here’s today’s insight. I’m becoming a morning person. This is as unthinkable to me as giving up cake once was. And I’m not up at 5, out running. But I am getting up earlier and earlier, and getting more done at the outset of my day. I used to think that there was no real difference in being a night owl or being a morning person, but for me I am finding that it has a significant difference in the way I approach things.
When I would sleep as late as possible, then stay up through the night, I was able to feed the procrastinator side of myself. As long as I can stay up, I always have time to get something done. It’s always open-ended. This dovetails nicely with the inability to make a decision, another flaw I’m trying to work out. (Or, more accurately in 12-step language, turn over to God for working out.) I have used a desire to be open-minded and not rigid as an excuse to never commit. They are not the same thing.
Now that I am up earlier, I know that I only have so many hours in the day. They’re the same hours as I had before, but I treat them differently now. It started with the running. It was harder to deprive myself of sleep when I was actually getting exercise. First I wnet to bed earlier. Then I started to get up earlier. Eventually I’d like to be the guy who gets up before 5, and has a workout done first thing. Or maybe I just need to get a few hours of work in first, then train once the kids are on the bus, and then make visits. I have found that my day with others usually doesn’t start until at least 10am, and if that was the middle of my day as opposed to the beginning, I think I could get used to that.
But as I said, beyond the logistics of scheduling, I do find it to be a philosophical shift. With a firm “deadline” when I know I’ll be useless and asleep, I can’t keep putting things off. And that means making a decision before the last second. These are changes in my life that appear to have little to do with the term triathlete, but the lifestyle is complete, not so segmented. And that’s the spiritual end of this: the interconnectedness of all the parts of my life I have tried to segment so neatly.
Last night I tried an experiment. I stayed up very late to watch the Hatfield and the McCoys that was on History Channel this week. I got through parts 1 and 2, but I couldn’t do part 3. This morning I feel tired. I now remember that I used to feel this way all the time. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder of how things are actually different, so I have an appreciation for how much better it is now. It’s like a tiredness weight vest.
So for anyone keeping score of the “well, I’ll never ________” statements I’ve made, so far I count these
be a runner
give up dessert
be a morning person
I wonder what shift is next?