A New Day (Earth Spin)

Every morning, I stand outside and greet the sun. I ask myself, “What am I going to do with this earth spin?” The sun never rises and the sun never sets, the earth just keeps spinning, that, you should never forget. I know it sounds elementary, but we chunk up our days as if they were governed by the sun’s illusory trajectory.

If we truly take advantage of the time we’ve been given, we can better ourselves at all times. I know that our bodies abide by a circadian rhythm, and I know that we need to eat and sleep an adequate amount, but I find myself wondering why most people remain comfortable in performing the bare minimum. Rise with the sun, go to work, head home before sunset, and fritter away the remaining hours before doing it all over again the following day.

I suppose gone are the days where people like Benjamin Franklin would work with a metal ball in their hand. When the ball dropped if he drifted off, he would wake up and continue working. He operated on around four hours of sleep. He was clearly the exception and not the norm. But, I suppose Elon Musk could be today’s modern comparison.

Maybe this is a chastisement upon myself. I find myself heading to bed before I am sufficiently tired. I notice that I am wasting my time by surfing the web or using unproductive apps. Maybe I am just “normal.” There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I aspire to be like those who seem to suck the juice out of life with an unmatched efficiency. Perhaps if I keep striving to be on that level, I will reach it. Will it make my life any better? Maybe. Maybe not. Only one way to find out.

Only 54,000 Words To Go

Just writing the title made my stomach drop. I’m 26,000 words into my novel. And actually, after doing some math, that’s not so bad. I’m about a third of the way finished. That’s solid progress. The problem is that I feel as if I’m running out of plot, dialogue, and context. Should I scrap the project? Should I cut it short? Should I stick to writing 1,000 words and see how it plays out?

I’ve made it this far, I think I’ll continue to do my 1,000 words a day and see where I end up at the end of January. I’ve set a deadline for the revised manuscript for March 4th, which should be plenty of time. I need to remind myself that if it was easy, everyone would do it. I’ve begun an endeavor that most people only talk about. But, until I’m published, it will remain an unfulfilled pipe dream.

The process is arduous, but for the most part it’s enjoyable. If it remains unpublished, I’m sure my family and friends will enjoy reading it, and that’s really enough for me at this point in my fledgling writing career. There’s no point in speculating, however. What’s going to happen, will happen. If I stick with it, I will eventually succeed. I need to hit the 10,000 hour mark, which is still so far in the distance that I can scarcely see it.

I’m going to do my best, and that’s all I can do. If this project, or even the next one or the next one don’t pan out, I’m going to continue to write. I write because I enjoy it. If I get published, it will be icing on the cake. It is a nice goal, and a nice dream to pursue if nothing else, I suppose. Only time will tell. For now, I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and see what happens.

Instantaneous Results

Following an eye-opening review of my screen time, I decided to enact more discipline in terms of my reading and writing habits. So much time had been spent on Instagram and video games, that I could not overcome a seeping sensation of guilt. Yesterday I decided to take the “drastic” measure of deleting the apps.

Not only did I free up a few hours of time, I read a 215 page book, posted a blog post, and spent quality time with my son. I was not only more productive, but I was more focused, more relaxed, and in an overall better mood. I hadn’t realized that the time I was wasting on Instagram and video games was causing me anxiety. It was almost as if I knew on a subconscious level that I was wasting my time.

Following one of the most productive days I’ve had in recent memory, I’m going to continue the fledgling habits until they are automatic. I shouldn’t have to think about reading 100 pages and writing 1,000 words every single day, and eventually I won’t. Once they become the norm, it will be difficult to imagine my life without them. But, I guess that’s the ultimate goal- to be so immersed in my craft that it becomes a concrete component of my character.

How far along would I be on my writing path had I enacted these habits a year ago, or even a month or a week ago. It’s not to say that I wasn’t reading or writing every day, I just wasn’t as strict as I should have been. I could have been so much more focused, productive, and at ease. “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

The lost time, lack of focus, and stifled productivity can easily be transformed. It will take discipline, and a focus of will that I have not previously enacted. I enjoyed the first day of it immensely. Having read a book in a single day, I felt so accomplished. I’m hoping that the initial momentum will carry over into today and into the following weeks until they are the unshakable foundation on which my writing career is built.

Procrastination

I recently decided to take a look at my screen time statistics. There was a cringe and a sinking sensation of guilt. So much time had been frittered away. Instagram and video games made up a huge percentage of usage. I asked myself, “Are either of these things helping you achieve your goals?” I felt even worse thinking about how much reading and writing could have taken place during those wasted hours.

However, hindsight is always 20/20. This brief assessment was all I needed to change my ways. I promised myself to enact more discipline in terms of my daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Essentially, my new goals are to read at least 100 pages and write 1,000 words every day. If I can accomplish those two things, everything else will fall into place as they should.

If I find myself falling back into old patterns of behavior, the more drastic action will be to delete the apps. Would that really be drastic? It sounds so trivial. Why don’t I just do that now? Mainly because I feel like there needs to be some balance. Burnout is a real possibility without some release valves. I can always read and write more than my daily goals, but I can also reward myself with some screen time.

How seriously do I want to take my writing career? How much reading do I really want to do? Those are two questions that I continually ask myself. As I progress into the discipline, these two questions will eventually answer themselves I suppose. The more seriously I take this endeavor, the more disciplined I will become with my practices, and the more proficient I’ll be in both reading and writing.

Following this new set of goals, I’ve set limitations on screen time-no more than an hour a day. This should be more than sufficient as a release valve. If I’m finding and engaging with quality reading material, this may be much more time than I actually need. I’m going to experiment with striking a balance, and hopefully, with practice, I’ll find the equation that works best for myself and for my fledgling writing career.

The Holidays

This was the first year that I didn’t partake in a traditional Thanksgiving. There was no turkey. NO TURKEY- it felt almost sacrilegious. I was a part of the 0.5% of the American population that had a strictly vegan meal. It was complete with organic sweet potatoes, rolls, green bean casserole, and last but not least- a “tofurkey.” Despite my initial hesitations, it was a surprisingly satisfying meal.

We decided to skip our yearly attendance at a massive family gathering-full of second and even third cousins whom I only see once a year. After the experience of a cozy, quaint, and personal dinner with my wife and young son, I don’t think I’ll ever be attending again. And because of the level of enjoyment, I think we’ll be skipping a similar gathering for Christmas.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of my extended family. It’s just that I enjoy the company of my immediate family more. Not only that, but we aren’t traditionalists. Christmas has become a consumer-driven holiday. The true meaning has become lost in and avalanche of decorations, toys, wrapping paper, stockings, and trees. I’d much rather stay home, enjoy a cozy fire, sip tea and spend time with my son. Call me crazy- but I don’t think I’ll ever be celebrating either holiday in the “traditional” sense again.

The holidays are supposed to be about giving thanks and spending time with loved ones. Of course you can achieve this with the traditional methods, but haven’t they become utterly convoluted? Maybe it’s just me- or maybe it’s just my family; but after seeing Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure that most people have succumbed to the consumerist brainwashing of mass media.

I don’t care if people call me a non-conformist or an outcast or even evil. I’m going to do what feels right. We won’t be buying or decorating a tree. We won’t be hanging stockings and filling them with candy and knickknacks. We won’t be buying and wrapping and unwrapping things we don’t need. We’re going to spend time as a family, give thanks for our blessings, and enjoy each other’s company- isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about? I feel like the rest is frivolous at best.

Annapolis

My wife and I visited Annapolis for the first time in two years. We met up with her father and step-mother for three days in the waterside city. We rented a small townhouse a few hundred yards from the center of downtown. It was a historic house with a nautical feel. The owner was a Naval Academy grad and his bookshelves were filled with the seafaring tales of Patrick O’Brien.

The house itself was situated on a cozy side street, hedged in by two parallel rows of similar homes. A crisp breeze blew continually from the waterfront, and the blustery weather ensured the use of winter coats and hats. Winter raised its icy head as we traversed up and down Main Street under the shadow of the Maryland state house.

Taking pictures took place in-between meals. I was not phased by the paparazzi feel of it, because I was so focused on the cobblestone streets and the enjoyment of people-watching shuffling crowds around the city. We toured the Naval Academy and memories of formations, marching, inspections and the other-worldly feel of military life came rushing back.

It is now almost ten years ago since my military “career” (three and a half short years of military school) ended. The architecture and prestigious nature of the school had eluded me in my younger years. There was a severe lack of appreciation for the path that laid before me. In the end, I was unaware of the longevity of life and the long-term repercussions of cutting a budding military career too short.

However, I don’t think I would change my decision. I have become a more well-rounded and worldly individual. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I stayed in, but the frivolity of such thoughts quickly disintegrates as I look at my son. My world is now my family, and I’m not sure if I would have ever been lucky enough to have such a loving environment had I pursued my previously chosen course. I guess it was not meant to be…but at the same time, all of it was.

Second Novel

I’ve begun writing my second novel. The going has been slow. The subject matter hits close to home, and it has been difficult to recollect my past. I do my best to write 1,000 words a day, but it feels as if I’m forcing it at times. The creative process can be arduous, but I just can’t seem to get into a “flow” state.

I’m going to switch up my routine, start exercising more, and hopefully find the right amount of caffeine to jump-start my mind without feeling jittery. Writing a novel (80,000 words) is no small task-no wonder creative types drink heavily. Just kidding…but really, I can certainly see why.

Without wine or pot, writing just doesn’t seem to have the same flair as before. It feels like a grind-perhaps because it is. I’m going to type out at least 80,000 words over the coming months and see what I end up with. As of right now, the story needs fleshing out and it is off to a slow start. I’m really hoping that it picks up speed as the process continues.

Better to work hard than to hope. Even though my work doesn’t feel adequate, I know that I am my own worst critic. For the time being, I’m just going to keep cranking out 1,000 words a day as best as I possibly can. The rest will take care of itself. Sculpting a masterpiece is never easy, and it will take trial and error (and possibly a third or fourth attempt at a novel) but, I’m convinced that with enough practice and determination, I’ll produce a publishable work. I’m not going to give up until that happens…at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

No Longer “Typical” Sundays

I no longer watch football. I no longer drink. I no longer drink and watch football. Why? For a variety of reasons, but, mainly the time. The whole day used to just disappear…and maybe that’s why people indulge in the traditional American Sunday-it’s a distraction. They aren’t sure what to do with themselves when there’s “nothing to do.” (no job, no school etc.) So, they kick a few back, watch concussion after concussion in the name of states, cities, schools, colors, mascots, and tradition. I guess?

So, what do I do instead? No football? Insanity right?…I play with my son, spend quality time with my wife, read, write, nap, and exercise. It’s far more productive and far more enjoyable. “Sunday scaries” no longer exist because I don’t feel like I’m going from a wasteful day, back to a productive routine. While rest and recuperation are important, I’m not sure how drinking and watching a sport that has been proven to destroy brains can be beneficial. I just don’t find it appealing anymore.

I find it almost depressing that I was once one of those people. How many Sundays have I wasted? How much alcohol have I consumed in the process? There’s nothing wrong with a few beers now and then. And there’s nothing wrong with watching a game for enjoyment occasionally, but, wasting an entire day, and destroying your health in the process can’t help you become a better person.

“We.” We won. We lost. We need a new coach. Who is we? You play no role in the organization other than funding them with your viewership and buying their sponsors’ products. You’re a pawn in a massive, media-driven conglomeration. “We” should mean the American sheeple. Chug light beers, smoke cigarettes, eat fast food, stay unhealthy, and uneducated and feed the machine. It may seem harsh, but all in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.

My Small World

I’m watching my wife cook dinner. My son is on the counter. Music is playing softly in the background. I’m not at the gym, I’m not at a bar, and I’m not on a date. I’m with my family. My son is soon to be 18 months old, and for some reason it is just now hitting me that this will be the normal evening scene for the next twenty years or so. I don’t mind it though-it’s peaceful.

How did I get here? It seems like only yesterday I was in California. I am now back in my small town and raising a family. Time flies. So much of my time is spent at home with my son that the days begin to blur and my life feels like a dream. I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

My visits to D.C. remind me that I am not a city person. The ambiguity is too much. Too much commotion. Too much traffic. Too many people. It’s not for me. I enjoy a rural setting surrounded by nature. While the relative solitude can be numbing at times, it usually means that I am taking it for granted.

Boredom only sets in when I am not reading, writing, or exercising enough. There is always something to do. If I find myself procrastinating too much, I start to go stir crazy. I get FOMO about the outside world. “I must be missing everything. The world must be passing me by. There’s nothing going on here.” Etc.

But, this is my life now. I love my small world. While it may seem small in scope and scale, it is the biggest undertaking that I will ever undergo. My wife’s company and my son’s love are all I need. Living in relative obscurity is a blessing in disguise…I can be whomever I would like to be. Right now, I want to be a good husband and father. I think I’ll do just that for the time-being.

“Alumni”

I visited my college’s alumni lacrosse game today. After graduating five years ago, I had been before, but this year felt different. The connections felt weaker, the vibes felt monotonous, and the event seemed trivial. What once seemed like the epicenter of my existence, now felt silly. Have I outgrown the scene?

It only makes sense. I have a wife and a young son. My family has replaced my old community…as it should. I wore an aging sweatshirt and watched the lifeblood of the program play a game against the aging alumni. Why? Why should I care after these years? I’m not sure, but I do.

I suppose I have tried to capture a life and an existence that was and is so fleeting. The nostalgia had a stranglehold on my ego. The glory days now seem like an old home movie that is blurry and out of focus. Old friends. Old teammates. Old memories. The scene is old. Actually, the scene is the same. I am old.

How did the immortal sensations of youth come to pass? When and how did I seem to suddenly turn thirty? Where did the years go? What have I been holding onto? It must have been a sense of belonging, a sense of community, or more so an identity that I wanted to maintain. It now seems so ridiculous. How could I have turned a bubble into my world?

Despite the somewhat depressing nature of it all, I was reminded that life is so much bigger, and there are so many more important things going on. Where I once hung my hat, there is no hook, and many other hats have gone missing. I will never be able to replicate that time or that space or those moments. They seem like just yesterday, but I suppose all strong memories do.

It is time to make new memories and experience new moments with my family. I am so lucky and so grateful to have a healthy and happy wife and child. They outshine all of the experiences and opportunities that I have been given in this lifetime. They should be my ultimate focus, yet I routinely find myself drifting back in time to what could have been.

Holding onto the past prevents us from not only experiencing the present, but also from building a healthy and happy future. Time slips by because we are trapped in a bygone era. The memories fade, the experience starts to blur, and the connections drift further and further apart. The best option is to continually live into the moment, cherish the present and be excited for the future. Without St. Mary’s, without lacrosse, and without my old friends, who am I? I can become whoever I choose to be, but I guess only time will tell.