A Philosophy of Life (unrefined essay)

Writing Practice 7/25/2019

My philosophy of life is…

My philosophy of life is still evolving. It’s never going to be completely static and arrived. That would be a naive way to view the world, as if you had arrived and had all the answers. We’re not Budhha over here. Which means we will constantly need to adapt our philosophy of life to new situations, new experiences, new people, who come into our lives. We need to recognize this dynamic nature, so that we don’t consider ourselves stuck, or stable, or solid, and get so entrenched in those ways, and so enamored with our own selves, that we cannot do any kind of modification at all when the time necessary for adaptation emerges.

Not to say we adjust according to every whim, every new fad in society. But we do recognize that there may be times when what we previously thought becomes insufficient to comport with the whole of the world presented to us, around us, beside and above us. We must, therefore, continually test and evolve to and refine our philosophies of life, even if those refinements are no more than to say, “yes, this philosophy also works well in that new situation.”

For us to wholesale, grand scale, top-to-bottom and soup to nuts try to remake our philosophies, though, is too large an undertaking. We shall be in a state of constant adjustment, whipsawing back and forth between extremes, with no real progress ever made towards the goal. And, since each philosophy of life shall have a different goal, one will hardly ever have the chance of Obtaining it, and either finding it a worthy goal or finding it wanting, should we continuously choose to bounce, to alternate back and forth between such options.

It is for this reason, much like the coxswain in he scull, that I advocate smaller and smaller steps of change each time, moving approximately half of your deficit each time. So, for example, suppose you’re starting out at the origin of a plane. You have two axes, the X and the Y. You decide that your best philosophy of life is designed to send you as far along the Y axis as possible. As much “UP” as you could go, as it were. Suppose, then, that you stat out living life, and find yourself traveling, or even just pointing, “EAST”, along that X- axis. Do you, immediately, slam on the brakes, and try to come to a full and complete stop?

Well, you could. Or, you could take the same energy you would use to stop, and you could simply apply pressure in the “UP” direction. Yes, you’d still going east, somewhat, but you would also be now heading more towards the UP than you were before.

Suppose it works. As it should. Eventually you may find that you have overshot your Y-axis, and are now headed a bit WEST-UP, UP-WEST, UP-LEFT, whatever. At this point, do you once again apply so much UP-RIGHT pressure as to continue to go back and forth across the axis?

No, if you are smart you will, after the first overcorrection, go less-right and more-up; if as, to be expected, you overshoot once more, your error will likely be less than it was originally. Continue to aim for your target, but with smaller and smaller corrective actions, and you will eventually eliminate your overshoots, and you will start to simply approach your goal, to be lived however and whatever and wherever it becomes you.

 

 

Writing Practice – 11/11/2018

Write about how fabulous Melissa is…

Melissa is so fabulous that RuPaul faints when he sees her.

Melissa is so fabulous that she taught Chuck Norris karate.

Melissa is so fabulous that when she farts, the glitter comes out. And then it magically transforms into little glittery butterflies, and they fly back up into her butt, just for the privilege of being farted out again.

Melissa is so fabulous that Jesus swears by saying, “Oh my Melissa!”

Melissa is so fabulous that the migrant caravan in Mexico isn’t coming to the United States, they’re coming to get her autograph. When they get here, they’re each going to take a selfie then turn around and go back home.

Melissa is so fabulous that when that happens, Donald Trump is going to actually see that for what it is and call her on the phone to congratulate her, and he’s not even going to try to spin it to look good on himself.

Melissa is so fabulous that Victoria’s Secret is planning to change their name to “Melissa’s Inspiration”.

Melissa is so fabulous that she makes water flow uphill.

Melissa is so fabulous that when she shoots a free throw, the hoop moves to catch the ball for her.

Melissa is so fabulous, she doesn’t drive her car to places. She just gets in, and the world moves under her to get where she wants.

Melissa is so fabulous, she can do 8 Minute Abs in seven minutes.

Melissa is so fabulous she can actually understand the movie Primer.

Melissa is so fabulous that there’s a secret society, like the Skull & Bones or the Masons, that every member of those groups are trying to get into. The group simply sits around all day and thinks of how fabulous Melissa is. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

Melissa is so fabulous that the first time travelers from three thousand years in the future are planing to come back just to see her. Forget stock tips, killing Hitler, or ending poverty or war. Those are small potatoes compared to seeing her.

And, finally, Melissa is so fabulous that she can write a whole essay about herself, just using ESP and mind-controlling my pen!

Writing Practice – 9/8/2018 – a Letter

Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a long time…

Dear ________,

I’m sorry that I haven’t written in, gosh, probably 25 years, almost. The last time was when we were back in high school. And I do apologize – I’ve forgotten your name. Somehow. But I haven’t forgotten that you lived in Ames, Iowa. I thought it was cute, back then, like I thought you were cute.

Do you remember, we met on separate Choir trips to the same place? Must have been Chicago – that’s the only trip my choir ever went on. I was Treasurer of the club that year, so I spent more time counting checks than I did counting eighth notes. But that was okay – I learned quickly and sang well, so I could afford to miss rehearsals.

I would ask you how you have been, but I realize that’s a very bland, very “standard” question. I want to ask what has made you happy? What made you cry? Have you ever seen a sunset, all by yourself, standing or sitting at the top of a mountain you just climbed? What makes you laugh?

I would tell you about my life, but there’s too much. Facts aren’t that interesting, really. I know you want the stories – I want to tell them. Like how I ended up on the floor in my underwear at 2 am, crying and praying and dripping snot down my cheeks onto my chest. Or how I put half a dozen holes in the walls. Or how I almost passed out when I fell, once, and that shook me up enough to make some more drastic changes. You want to know my successes and failures. You want to know what I’m proud of and what I regret.

You know what? I’m proud of the fact that I can park 2 cars in my 2-car garage. It may seem like something people don’t often brag about, but I’m really happy I can do that.

You know what I regret? Not keeping in touch with people. Not just you – Andy, Andrew, Nathan, my brother for a while. I want to be a better friend. I want to support my friends in their journeys. I want them to support me. I don’t want to blow away like an ash from a campfire, tossed up into the wind, tumbled along without intention, without purpose, without goals that, when I achieve them, will bring a measure of satisfaction for a job well done.

I want to be happy. And I want others to be happy, too There is enough in this world for us all to achieve what we want. Why hoard? Why restrict? Give. Even if it is not returned to you, that happiness, that love, that community, give anyway. Because it is the right thing to do. If it comes back, then give again. And if it does not, well, then, you will have done the right thing, and that is most important.

Please, do write back. Maybe then I will remember your name. 🙂

Sincerely,

SJ

Anatomy of a Workout

Plan:

Run up a hill, walk down, 10 times. In other words:

  1. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  2. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  3. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  4. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  5. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  6. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  7. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  8. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  9. Run up a hill. Walk down it.
  10. Run up a hill. Walk down it.

 

Actual:

0.  Jog to top of the hill. Walk down it. This is my “warm up”. Who am I kidding, I don’t “warm up”.

1.  Start watch. Run up the hill. Stop watch. 1:06. Walk down.

2.  Start watch. Run up the hill. Stop watch. 1:18. Walk down. Notice pain in my knee. That’s different.

3.  Start watch. Start running up the hill. Start cursing. Start feeling the pain. Pass by a bench. Stop running. Stop watch. 1:01. I’m not at the top of the hill. Think, Is this where it ends? Decide, Nope. Walk to the top of the hill. Another 0:46. Walk down. Think about quitting. Think about giving up. Think about just saying fuck it to fitness, to losing weight. To my goals. Why did I Nope?

Think about how much I’ve invested in my life to things like this. Think about elementary school, when my dad made me go running because I was chubby. Think about high school, when I did it on my own so I could lose weight for wrestling. Think about college, when I got up at 4:30 a.m. to ride in a bus for an hour to row for an hour to ride back in a bus for an hour to then go to class. Think about my twenties and running 13.1 miles the very first time. The tenth time. The twentieth time. Think about my thirties and completing triathlons. Think about my forties, and finishing a 69 mile bicycle ride.

Think about the future, when I want to complete an Ironman triathlon. Think about my fifties, and hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Ozark Trail, the Pacific Coast Trail. Think about my sixties, and taking a year-long bicycle ride around the country. Think about giving all those up, just because I can’t get to the top of a stupid hill a few times on a Friday morning? Nope.

4. Start watch. Run up the hill. Stop watch. 1:36. Walk down the hill. Notice the pain in my knee is gone. The pain in my feet is still there. It’s always there.

5. Start watch. Run up the hill. Stop watch. 1:23. Walk down the hill. Get a drink of water.

6. Start watch. Run up the hill. Pass the bench at 1:00, start walking. Get to the top of the hill. Stop watch. 1:58. Walk down the hill.

7. Start watch. Run up the hill. Pass the bench, start walking at 1:06. Get to the top of the hill. Stop watch. 1:44. Walk down the hill.

Think, Only three more. I can do this. I hate this.

8. Start watch. Run up the hill. Swear a lot. Run almost the whole way. Stop watch. 1:25. Walk down the hill.

9.  Start watch. Run up the hill. Swear. Run the whole damn way. Stop watch. 1:32. Walk down the hill. Get a drink of water.

10. Start watch. Run up the hill. 1:23. Lay on the ground. Wave to the guy sitting on his porch. Walk home.

Set a goal that some day I’m going to run all 10 reps under 1:06. When I do, it will be time to find a new hill.