Books, butterscotch and the barbell
Posted on December 24th, 2012
Note: Dear reader, here’s your annual, rambling Holiday post. Enjoy!
From this view I can see quite a few books. Some are gigantic tomes. Others are really nothing more than pamphlets or long articles stapled within fancy covers designed to tug the reader into an impulse purchase, which is fine in it’s own right. Regardless of page count, each work adds to the collective scholarly vibe, which is bigger than the sum of the words alone.
Just in case you didn’t realize it, vibe alone will take you a long way in this world.
That said, only about a fourth of these books are worthy of a cover to cover read. It’s not a question of whether the others are bad. That’s actually pretty rare. And no, not finishing a book doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re some sort of attention deprived mouth-breathing numbskull who’s only capable of making it through Sunday afternoon cable TV reruns of bad Transformers movies. Unfortunately that last example is far more common!
I like to think of it this way. You started off without the knowledge, but now that you’ve got it, you recognize that it’s time to move on. You understand that time spent squeezing the remaining water from those stoney pages could have been better spent in pursuit of the next lesson, idea, or insight. Or you could just spend those surplus hours playing that Wii U, which is, unbeknownst to you, parked cozily right underneath your Christmas tree as we speak. You’ve worked hard all yeah, feel free to be a lazy bum for a few days!
The take home point is that you found a sign that you’d had enough, and you acted.
That strategy applies to everything, even butterscotch fudge. Yes, butterscotch fudge! My wife brought home a batch of the stuff this week from one of these innumerable, and for some reason mandatory holiday functions. I gave the confection a close look, but couldn’t quite imagine the flavor – a position of ignorance I was able to correct after just a few short bites. The cloying sweetness quickly gave way to complete tongue desensitization, followed by a sure and steady rise in the gastrological rebellion brewing within my tummy. “Yeah, five pieces of this shit was probably too much, and yet, I regret nothing!”
If I may dial up the Holiday food references a bit, we all know life to be a giant bag of Chex-Mix, figuratively speaking. For the most part, there’s just a lot of boring and bland cereal in there. Your mission is to dig through the batch and score the good bits. The butter coated pretzel sticks, the sweet and spicy nuts (keep your mind out of the gutter!), whatever tickles your fancy. But you also must strategically avoid the bad stuff. In my family, it’s the bagel chips. I’ve tried for years to explain to my mother that if it’s texture you’re after, why not just add a couple of hand full’s of kitty litter? It’s just as tasty.
Yes, target the good and avoid the bad to the best of your ability, but know that none of this is really a surprise. There are always signs that enough is enough, that the effort is paying off, or that your best laid plan is crashing and burning and full Zeppelin-like fiery grandeur. All it requires is for you to pay attention. This is where I think most people really fuck up.
Training is a great illustration.
Earlier I mentioned cable TV reruns. Well, if Transformers is a bad example, then I think continuous holiday loops of the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a damn good one. And just like Frodo and the ring, my fate and that of my barbell are inexorably linked.
At this stage in the game, my strength goals are humble and clear. I want to feel at ease with a heavy load on my back. I want mobile, pain free shoulders capable of a respectable press. And finally, I want the ability to pick up stuff really quickly. I don’t need heavy, just the quick bit. Those are sort of the engines of my physical life. If any one of them go’s out, I start to lose altitude in all other areas. But I’m never taken off guard anymore. Little pains here and there, boredom, weights feeling a little heavier than they should…these are all little canaries chirping to get my attention. And oh do they chirp! All I need to do is listen and be ready to change course or move on. Or better yet, the opposite is satisfying reassurance that I’m on the right track.
Can you hear the chirping? Maybe the signals are all there. Or, this could just be a sure sign that you’ve drank way too much of Grandpa’s wormwood spiked egg nog. But I think you get the point.
As we close this year out, let’s get a jump on our resolutions. Let’s commit to paying attention, getting the knowledge we’re after, and looking out for all the signs that will allow us to make the best possible decisions in 2013.
Thanks for reading. I sincerely hope that you are your family have an amazing holiday season.