I’m starting to think that Peace is a mental runner’s high.
When you run, there’s a point of maximum resistance. Your mind is yelling, “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, STOP AND CATCH YOUR BREATH.” Something has to overwhelm that desire, be it determination or a bear chasing you.
Then, the endorphins hit. Your breathe loosens with an exhale, strides feel easier, and you begin coasting. Running becomes an afterthought, making way for mental clarity.
Peace comes after the thrashing. It doesn’t come from falling in love, but from growing in it. Landing a job doesn’t give you peace, hitting a stride in your career of choice does. Peace isn’t running from something purposefully, nor is it a momentary goal. It’s matching pace with life and smiling.
As I mentioned, the struggle with debating v. doing is something persistent in all parts of my life. Efforts to make it better usually involve a lot of debating and little doing, immediately undermining any ideas produced.
One of my professors suggested saying, “Do it now” five time in a row, three times a day. I’ve tried planning everything the night before, organizing each meticulous minute into a jenga-like schedule. Attempts to remove decisions only leaves me with the same problem once one comes up. No matter what idea I cling to, the difficulty is in the fear that I’m headed down the wrong path.
But with my recent diet success, I’m thinking this might be a good place to make the same kind of shift. I’ve been carrying around a card in my wallet that says “Decision > Debate”. And I’m going to experiment with this week.
This week, I’m going to make the fastest decisions possible. I’m going to see what it’s like to be someone who makes decisions quickly. Become more action oriented. Instead of a “People to Call” list, just dial. Maybe it isn’t as good a life as I imagine it is. Maybe everything will fall apart.
There’s an idea of freedom as the ability to anything you want. That idea falls flat when it meets reality. In a reality where you have infinite resources, where time is spent as you wish, you are not free. There are the laws that govern our realities: gravity, nuclear forces, electromagnetism. If I were free to do as I pleased, I would become the Avatar.
But even then, I wouldn’t be free.
What if those laws were overwritten for me? Amended under the Alejandro Provision by God himself, “he can bend these few rules.” I still wouldn’t be free. I don’t live in the vacuum of space, I live here! With you! With billions of little tiny bacteria us, plants and animals! We live amongst the ruins of old civilizations and the seeds of the future. There’s an imposed responsibility that comes with being on Team Life – respect life.
Let’s go past that. I transcend the physical and become consciousness. I experience senses beyond the six, reach into the past and future like playing piano. I understand all, live beyond death, experience outside of spacial sensations.
If even the unimaginable were possible, I still wouldn’t be free.
The important half of freedom is deciding where to place limits. It’s understanding where your limitations come from, deciding standards and finding places of compromise. It’s building your own limitations into reality rather than assuming the limitations of others. Freedom cannot exist without constraints. Choosing your constrains – that’s freedom.
The Fear of Judgement has been amplified by one simple idea: everyone can have an opinion. It seems to be an unchecked, ever growing reason we don’t do things we want.
The solution preached by many is simply “don’t care about other people’s opinions.” Which… no shit, Sherlock. That would be great. But growing to a place where you don’t care about other people’s opinions takes time and courage. Even if we had an “I don’t Care” switch, most start on “Care”. Flipping the switch is a process, not a moment. I specifically struggle with Assumed Judgement: “If I do this, X person/people/group will thing negatively.” With that being said, I wanted to share a few strategies that have helped me.
There is a person or group on the other end of Assumed Judgement. It’s someone you respect, want to be like, or want to like you. In my experience, the Judgement is not coming from them. Rather, it is reflecting the assumptions you hold, either about their values or their reality.
Call them. Float an idea, see how they react. Uncover the judgement feared and see if it is worth fearing. A fear bouncing around without context creates a skewed perception of Reality. But that ability can come to your benefit.
This idea is poached from Tim Ferriss, who poached it from a smart Greek or something. Take the worst possible outcome of your decision and work up from it. This is great at using your nature to your benefit. If you’re going to assume the worst, carry through that assumption and find the reality on the other side. Learn more about it here!
Share with Someone
I have never been one to complain, but there’s something to hearing your own ideas in front of someone. Not even someone you trust. The other day, I said the nerves I had about a potential new job to a roommate in the wrong language. Just saying them to someone else made most of the negative points fall flat on their face. Again, make sure that your thoughts aren’t able to bounce around.
One Step for Man
Something I’m still working on is the idea that the speed of the decision is more valuable than the debate. If you’re nervous, what’s the first step? What is the smallest possible step you can take to get closer to a final goal? Make it. Make a Facebook page, read the book, break the first sweat. You can always change later once there is more information. For now, get to it champ!
Thanks for taking a sip,
This one was inspired by more than a few big names. Mostly though, it’s an answer to the question of what I’m going to be doing next.
A year ago today, a friend of mine left Peru. As is tradition with most travelers, she gifted all the things too cumbersome to bring along. I ended up with a yoga mat, a bottle of wine, and an child’s orange notebook.
“Chaq Chao’s Balcony @ Sunset 8/28/18” is three pages long. After that is an unintelligible Spanish essay that gives me proof my Spanish is much better now. There are two contracts with myself: one saying I will talk to more strangers, another bonding me to online teaching for 2 months straight. Both are witnessed by myself in a different pen color.
There are pages and pages of plans that came to life derivative from what was written. All surround the same themes and dreams; things I think of as new to me have existed in one form or another for months. Distinct trends emerge. Stress produces thoughts of going home and longing for scattered friends. There’s a ranged period of fear, lasting between a moment and a month depending on the accompanying level of free time. And then, there’s action – a specific decision node that shifts potential to reality. Everything changes… for a while. The plan falters or fails and the cycle happens a month or two later.
Currently, I have a lost notebook in Arizona, Tennessee, Arequipa, and Mendoza. I am cursed to lose these notebooks right as I finish the last page. So, I’ll lose this one in Buenos Aires. But I’m starting to thing that each one isn’t too different from the last. That is both reassuring and suggestive of an unwillingness to solve core problems. Some problems take longer to realize, I guess. I’m ending this one “A Year Long Realization: Buenos Aires, Negro Cafe 8/28/19”.
Lunches in high school were an hour long. My senior year, every one of them was spent arguing with friends about dumb things. Would aliens be friendly? What’s the best animal to have as a pet? Is Miley Cyrus cool or a mess? Eventually, we got backlogged – an hour at lunch wasn’t long enough to get the points out. Arguments spilled into hallways and over texts, but were disregarded the next day for a new issue.
Half as a way to get into college, we started a debate club. We started promoting it before approval came through by hanging up nonsense posters. A marvelous symphony of things not happening the way they should led to our first meeting: 53 people. That many kids stuck in a physics classroom after school to argue about something. Anything. There was no structure. It was a complete mess. The physics teacher ended up eating all the snacks we bought for it.
It was the first time taking an idea from paper to people listening to me, waiting for me to give them a reason to come back. It was a moment of completely sincere satisfaction. It was a complete failure after that moment, but that moment was great.
Chasing the exact past is a faulty effort – something that happened, happened. But you can look back and see what you want more of in your life. The times I was happiest, fulfilled, and satisfied are probably good guides for where to head next.
Today was the 7th day in a row I’ve done some from of exercise. It has also been 7 days since my last Daily Alfajore Test. I understand that it isn’t for everyone, but two ideas have changed my health for the better.
1. Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth isn’t a massive feat of health, it’s something you do. More importantly, it isn’t a big deal. Brushing isn’t a heavy burden, nor is it a distracting goal. You brush your teeth, or you don’t. If you brush them, you’re better for it. If you didn’t, brush them soon.
Eating and exercise are the same. I’m going to exercise. If I don’t, there’s no moral conundrum, there’s no massive plan that I need to reorganize around. There isn’t emotion around food either. Walking by an alfajore stand doesn’t feel like a challenge now – if I want one, I can get one. But I don’t. Eating healthier is something I do now. Failure and success isn’t a question, there isn’t a diet or stringent rules (yet). It’s a question of “is this healthy?” Out with the alfajores, in with the carrots.
2. Daily Dose
My tenancy is to hide behind the past and the future. “I ate healthy yesterday” or “I’ll have an extra long run tomorrow.” I hide what’s uncomfortable, make it Future Alex’s problem or Past Alex’s accomplishment.
When you do something daily, that goes out the window. There is a specific 24 hours that you have to accomplish something, however you define it. The question isn’t if it will happen, it’s when and how. This same philosophy has led to me writing this blog, as well as the description project I mentioned here.
Again, these are things that have been working for me. It has only been 7 days; that isn’t much of an accomplishment. I’ve never dealt with body shame issues or eating problems. But I have my energy back, I’m getting my shape back, and I feel good. I feel really good.