Mistakes Were Made

There is one cycle or habit in my life that I haven’t been able to find a way out of:

Sprint as much as I can and get committed to a lot of cool ideas.

Get tired, push through it.

Slow down a little, but keep moving.

Get exhausted, watch as all the healthy things in my life start to slip away.

Keep pushing.

Get sick, ignore.

Take a token day off.

Keep pushing.

Get really sick, crash and burn.

Take a day to reset. Feel a little better.

Start sprinting.

Here’s the thing. I am 38 years old and I don’t have a lot to show for it in a lot of ways.

I have a business that I love, a wife I wouldn’t trade for literally anyone in the world (nope, not even Kathleen Hanna), and two sons who make my world awesome. I love my house, I love my city, I really love just about every aspect of my day.

But, I also have a tremendous amount of student loan debt, a very sizable chunk of medical debt and the learning curve of running a business and doing taxes. I have a son about to start college, and a wife that wants one more baby.

These are actually good things, even the debt because it was all “for” something, and has taught me to be very money conscious, but I also have a little voice in my head that tells me I am always running out of time.

Okay, it’s actually a big, loud voice.

I think this is kind of natural when you’ve been a loser your whole life, and to some extent I think I need it there. As I’ve said, living with an awareness of death is the most important thing one can do in my book, but it can also drive you to unhealthy places in itself.

All things in moderation.

So how do I get out of this cycle? Here are my ideas:

Be more intentional with my time off. I think a lot of it is wasted on Minecraft and It’s Always Sunny and dicking around on Reddit. I don’t really find these things relaxing, but they are my defaults when I get really tired.

I am back to eating all sorts of sugar, which cannot help with the health. One of my most noticeable warning lights for slipping into bad health is craving sugar all the time.

Exercise. This always falls off first, even though it among the most important things.

Sleep. I’m exhausted, I should start a new book now or go look at AdviceAnimals for a while. Or, let’s wake up at 2 am and not be able to sleep.

That one isn’t really my fault though.

I have some things in front of me I have to take care of, my exhaustion and being sick doesn’t change that, so I have to look at some incremental changes even though I prefer broad, sweeping ones.

They are more fun and look more impressive to me. They also don’t stick.

I stand by my belief that we are all dying and need to make the most of what we have here, but, like all things with me, this can veer into the ditch and leave me broken down for a few days, dying in the sun and telling myself this has to change.

I suppose it’s all just a matter of actually doing it…

The Best We Have

My goal has been to write these blogs in the moment and as I go, but days like today really make think I need a few in reserve to use.

So, pneumonia, and an infection to deal with. Hearing this did an odd thing, where my mind suddenly felt justified in being exhausted and everything felt just a little bit worse. I got more tired, I became acutely aware of my heart pounding, of being out of breath, of my head hurting, all sorts of stuff. The background noise became so much more noticeable.

I think it is interesting to watch how much our attention determines how we experience life.

The simple shift to acknowledgment of being sick changed my relationship to how I was feeling, and I had to make a conscious choice not to let it overwhelm me.

I did take care of what I needed to do today, but now I am home and I am going to get some rest. I am trying to evaluate what needs to be done and what I can let go. I didn’t get this posted this morning, and I’m not beating myself up about that.

We have to be open to changing our expectations of ourselves when we need to, and to making intentional changes in how we do things when necessary.

Everyday can be about doing our best, but what constitutes our best can change.

That’s all I’ve got today.

A Life of My Own (book review)

I want to say I feel better, but I think I feel more tired than yesterday. There is just a deep exhaustion in my body right now, and it hurts to breathe. Luckily, breathing is optional.

One of the cool things about being sick is catching up on reading, and since book reviews were something I wanted to incorporate into this blog, here we are.

Over the past few days I read Harley Flanagan’s autobiography Hard-Core: Life of My Own.

Harley was one of (many would say the) founding influences on hardcore music in New York, and a legendary figure in that scene. Founding and playing with the Cro-Mags would cement his place in many ways, but his life story is worth reading even if you’ve never heard of him.

That being said, this book is not for everyone. There are copious amounts of language and even more blood and violence. Harley grew up homeless on the Lower East Side in New York, long before the gentrification and polishing of the city throughout the nineties. This book is packed full of street fights and and broken skulls and people twitching on the pavement.

So why am I reviewing it on a blog dedicated to the idea of living intentionally because we will die someday?

The primary reason is that reading a book like this really helps us zero in on just how good a vast majority of us have it in this life. When you read Harley’s book you know within a few pages that this is a kid that never really had a chance. He had gone bad at an age when most people still believe in Santa Claus. This book is a glimpse into a world that exists “out there” for most of us, and is one that we rarely, if ever encounter. It may be hidden, but there are millions and millions of people across the world trapped in it. Harley’s autobiography humanizes this world, and helps us see just how easily we could have wound up in it like him.

This book is also a raw look at poverty and what it does to people. There is no lionizing of the poor and disenfranchised, and no glorification of being poor. Harley’s honesty allows us to see the complex and troubling nature of people, and what they can turn into when survival is goal. He seems very honest in his writing, and does not paint himself as a victim or an angel.

I found a lot of value in remembering that there are a lot of choices I am not forced to even consider, and in trying to honestly consider what kind of person I might have turned out to be if I had been forced to make them.

Lastly, I enjoyed the balanced and (in my mind) more realistic idea of redemption portrayed here. Throughout the book, Harley struggles with who he is and what he does, but a good heart is evident even in the darker moments. I think this good heart wins out at the end, but there is no squeaky clean closure and he remains (by his own admission) a difficult character. He doesn’t portray himself as achieving Buddhahood or figuring it all out, and a theme of karma/consequences/sowing and reaping remains until the very last page.

As I said, this book is not for everyone, but I think everyone should read it.

If you have the slightest interest in punk rock/hardcore then it is a must, but there are things for everyone in it.

Another List, Because I May Have Died in My Sleep Last Night

It will be fun to write about what a disaster yesterday was at some point, but not today.

I feel terrible today. Pins and needles in my chest, and possibly the worst headache I have ever had. I got up and watched TV last night, but I have no memory of doing it at all. I only know because Netflix was on a completely different show, one I’ve never seen.

It looks good though, I may start watching it now.

All that being said, everything is still better than worse in the balance. Here are ten reasons why.

I have a warm, comfortable house to be in while I slowly die.

I have all sorts of options of for entertainment while I die. Like that new show I found last night.

I already have my antibiotic. It may cause my tendons to rupture if I try and exercise, but it may also help me feel better.

I don’t feel like exercising even a little, so the threat of tendon rupture is small.

I have a job where I can rearrange my schedule when a day like this hits me.

I have great clients, who not only understand the rearranging, but are genuinely sympathetic to the situation.

I have a wife who picks up the slack when I feel like this and who would do anything I needed her to do.

If I were to get worse, I could call an ambulance or drive to a doctor. It is really shocking how many places there are in the world where you cannot do this. For a vast majority of human history this was not an option either.

I can be mindful of everything I am experiencing instead of resisting it, thus not complicating how I feel by having a bad attitude about it.

With any luck, this will be the one day I am away from a career I really love. If it turns into more, the other 9 good things still apply.

Thank you for the comments, texts and messages, I will try to reply to them throughout the day.

Have a great Thursday.

It’s Still A Friendly Universe

I really dislike going to the doctor, but I am going this morning because it is good to take care of yourself. Mature adults embrace healthcare and make taking care of themselves a priority in their lives.

Yep, Barbara is making me go.

It’s been a difficult few weeks, but here is a list of things that are going swimmingly.

The clinic I am going to is clean and modern and always gets me in and out pretty quickly.

If there is something wrong with me, I trust that the healthcare system we have in place will be able to help me quickly and effectively.

I don’t feel well a lot of the time, but I always feel well enough to take care of the things I want to take care of.

I am relatively unattached to how I feel as being a reliable indicator of the state of things.

It will cost money, but I can afford to pay for it. It may take payments, but none of this will cripple us. Many people cannot say this.

I have the freedom and flexibility in my work to be able to go.

I have a wife who cares enough to stay on me until I go.

Max is very empathetic and can somehow tell I am not feeling well. He rubs my hair and says “I’m so sorry. So sorry.”

I will have a good stretch of time to read on my Kindle while I wait. I enjoy time where I cannot really do anything else because I can read without thinking I should be working on something instead.

As always, this is all happening in my favorite city, in my favorite state, in a country with a stable infrastructure, on a planet with a stable orbit that is relatively free of collisions with large pieces of space debris, in a universe where things remain constant.

I don’t feel well, but this will pass, as all things do.

Make your own list, it will make things better. Share it in the comments if you are so inclined.