Such is the Winter of Our… Bad Habits
About 11 years ago, comedian Jerry Seinfeld (if you didn’t know it already, A Dude loves the Sein!) was said to have revealed the secret of his success. It was four words (five if you don’t count the contraction): Don’t Break The Chain (DBTC). By that he meant writing jokes for 10 minutes a day, no matter what. Seeing the red x’s accumulate on the big all-year wall calendar would supposedly motivate him to keep going. Eventually the jokes would get better. Turns out that was bogus; he didn’t invent it or really do it. But he sure did work hard and continuously to become one of the most successful comedians ever. Plus, he walks and bikes to work, how cool is that?! If you haven’t already, check out his documentary, Jerry Before Seinfeld, on Netflix.
I Make My Bed and Lie in It (It’s True)
Someone asked me recently how and why I did my 10,000 miles in 2 years on a bicycle. I’ve touched on that a bit in previous posts, but let me answer that in a round about way. Like many people, “not feeling like doing it” (diet, exercise, sleep, flossing, making the bed, going to work, writing a blog, etc. ad nauseam) is often the case for A Dude Abikes, too. I ain’t no Superman, I’m just A (regular) Dude. (Hint: That’s kinda the whole point of this blog — if I can do it, most of y’all probably can do it to, or whatever your thing is, too. We’re all just fellow travelers here, and I get inspiration from others and believe I give it out as well.) But let’s take making the bed. After leaving home for college, I realized my mother wasn’t standing over me telling me to do it. I figured, I’m just going to mess it up again the next night, it airs the sheets out, and my roommate doesn’t make his bed or care about mine, either. So I stopped. On and off over the years when company was coming or with new sheets, sometimes I’d make it. Usually not.
The one day about 10 years ago, I realized that if things weren’t going my way, making my bed was one simple thing I could do to feel in control. Maybe I’d go on to floss, or do sit-ups, or make other good decisions. Now, not a day goes by that I don’t make my bed. Maybe not first thing, but I don’t think about it, I “just do it.” Little did I know I decided DBTC on my bedclothes. Why? It looks good. I’m an adult. Who knows? Maybe Mrs. Future ADude Abikes will show up one day and my made-up bed will convince her I’m her soul mate. Sure, making one’s bed is not very fun, but establishing a good habit and then enjoying the fruits of one’s efforts is a good thing. So I’ll take it. And you can too, with whatever habit you want to form. Baby steps. Tomorrow, do one thing. Make your bed. Journal. Walk. Call your parents. Whatever. The next day, do it again. Don’t think about it. But Don’t. Break. The. Chain. (Or do it three times a week or whatever realistic and measurable goal makes sense.) Gen X alert: DBTC is also called a streak. A Dude remembers when streaking used to mean running nekkid as a bluejay in public. I’m not advocating that. Not opposing it either. As my new daily yoga teacher says, “Hey-oh!”
What Jay “The Juiceman” Kordich Had to Say. No Whey!
When New Year’s day came around again, I had been mulling over some cider (that’s a great pun, by the way). I had been wondering if I would make any resolutions, because they’re so easy to quit. I psyched myself into doing a daily yoga practice over four years ago, and since getting laid off my job of 11 years November 1st, I’ve packed on about 10 pounds despite the biking. So on New Year’s Eve, while putting in the last 20 miles of the year on my trusty Fuji Silhouette, I found myself at Wheatsville Coop buying not one, but two bunches of kale and a buncha other fresh, organic, healthy vegetables. The morning came and I unearthed my Juiceman Junior from the closet, dutifully made some juice and drank it. I did not die, vomit or have to run to the toilet with… the runs.
Unless you’re a millenial or have been living under Iraq, I mean, a rock, you know who Jay Kordich is. The “father of juicing” became famous for being very passionate about the wonders of fruit and vegetable juice. (He died last year at age 93. I think he was onto something.) Did he invent juicing? No. Is juicing a panacea? No. But his late-night infomercials promoting juicing were widely seen and he convinced millions to try it, thereby getting more vitamins and minerals into our bodies. Most big towns in America have a juice bar of some sort, so I’d say yes, he made it mainstream.
The idea of juicing was radical back then. The lesson for me then is that if I want radical change, it requires doing something radical. Even if it’s following the advice of a white-haired crazy person. It ain’t easy, eating greens, but give it a shot. You don’t have to fast. Did you know radical comes from the Latin word radix, like radishes, and means deep-rooted? Going without solid food is challenging, but as a former vegan once and a vegetarian twice who juiced somewhat on the regular, I’m trying it out again. A Dude finds that as long as he uses apple and lemon, the veggie taste is not too strong. (Though I agree that smoothies are a better choice because they keep the fiber, and I plan to switch to blended beverages and soup for Days 4-6.)
Life is One Long Obstacle (of) Course
It’s damn cold in Austin, I’ve mos def earned a break on the bike, and I need some variety and weight-bearing exercise. So at the urging of a friend, I’ve begun taking walks again. I’m hoping to not break the chain and do it daily. Today I really didn’t want to go because it was 30 friggin’ degrees out, and juicing does tend to sap one’s energy. But after a nap — without overthinking it, like brushing my teeth — I got dressed with plenty of layers and went for it. Just 30 minutes, not fast, a short loop around the hood. While walking, I found a railroad tie moved across the sidewalk, probably by some teenagers bored over winter break. I could have quit and gone home, walked around or over it, but I chose to put it back where it belonged. It’s the most obvious of metaphors, but any sort of self-improvement like diet or exercise is going to throw all kinds of things at you that will make you want to quit. Please don’t. Not quitting, especially when you really want to, that builds the most will power. Later you can go, “Wow! I really did that!”
You can’t know all the roadblocks that life will throw in your path. But like on a bike, you can anticipate, look ahead, prepare, stay flexible, and adapt to change. Do your best to create momentum, even if you have to take a step back sometime (like being injured). When presented with a challenge, whether it’s something or someone veers into your bike lane, your roommate is making a tasty-smelling dinner while you’re juice fasting, loose dogs are chasing you on a dead-end road while you’re biking, or whatever takes you off-course, you always have a choice.
Some days you will make good choices and succeed by outsmarting the obstacles, temptations, or dangers. Other days, if not most days, you will probably give into or otherwise become detoured by such distractions. That is OK. Use what Buddhists call “beginners mind.” Simply start again. No, it’s not easy. Nothing rewarding usually is. But there’s no need to complicate life by overthinking it. Does a dog who doesn’t catch the Frisbee the first time lambaste him or herself? No, s/he picks it up and goes and chases it again. Does anyone who is successful in their field give up at the first failure? (For example, Jerry Seinfeld and every stand-up comedian who ever braved a stage.) No, they try again until they get it right. I had the pleasure of meeting Marc Miller with Career Pivot recently. As he teaches in one podcast, “failure is OK, but fail fast.” His lesson is to learn to recognize when something is not working, adjust, and begin again. Quickly. And keep moving.
Well, speaking of quitting, I’ve gone well over the word and time limit I set for myself, but apparently A Dude had alot to say today. And putting in those damn links and pictures then editing takes longer than you’d think. Check back soon, hopefully tomorrow, for more tasty tidbits and treats from A Dude Abikes. Mmm… treats. Since it was just Christmas, here’s a hilarious morsel* for the enjoyment of you lucky people eating solid food, and a quote you may know but never gets old.
*all rights reserved by NBC
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of (her/)his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which (s/)he has imagined, (s/)he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…”
— Henry David Thoreau
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